About this Show

U.S. Senate

News/Business.

NETWORK

DURATION
05:00:00

RATING

SCANNED IN
San Francisco, CA, USA

SOURCE
Comcast Cable

TUNER
Channel 91 (627 MHz)

VIDEO CODEC
mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
ac3

PIXEL WIDTH
704

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Us 56, America 51, United States 23, Pakistan 23, Madam 21, United States Senate 19, Nasa 18, Obama 17, Washington 14, Vawa 12, Neil Armstrong 11, Afghanistan 10, Mr. Ryan 10, Montana 10, Egypt 10, Libya 8, California 8, Romney 7, Boehner 7, Mr. Romney 7,
Borrow a DVD
of this show
  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    September 13, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

12:00pm
medicaid, mr. ryan would slash the government, including defense, to 3.75% of g.d.p. by 2050. defense alone is 4.6% today. according to c.b.o., the total has never been below 8% since world war ii and defense has never been below 3%. so mr. ryan would either have to make massive defense cuts, the very same defense cuts he decried on the campaign trail yesterday, or he would need to virtually eliminate the rest of the government. transportation, security, f.b.i., education, scientific research, food testing. we know we know that's not going to happen. the larger point is this. in terms of deficit reduction, the ryan plan -- there's no other way to state it -- a fraud. this should come as no surprise. after all, congressman ryan supported the bush policies that got us into this deep fiscal
12:01pm
hole in the first place. from the bush tax cut to two unfunded wars to the paid-for creation of medicare part-d, congressman ryan's fingerprints are all easer th over the big-sg bush policies. ryan voted against the simpson-bowles framework. when paul ryan had a chance to walk the walk on deficit reduction, he joined all the other house republicans on the commission in voting down the report. he urged speaker boehner to abandon the grand bargain talks with president obama. "the new york times" reported in 2011, "ryan appealed to representative cantor to cut off negotiations between the speaker and the white house because he didn't feel the terms of the emerging agreement adhered strictly enough to his conservative principles and the deal might politically benefit president obama."
12:02pm
so, it is not a secret that the ryan budget both hurts the middle class and does nothing for deficit reduction. the only people who would benefit are the very wealthy, and god bless them. they're doing well in america, but as recent statistics just showed, they're the only people gaining income. and one other thing i'd like to add about mr. ryan here: he seems like a nice man, nice family, but his recent speeches have just been so revealing, and he did the same thing yesterday once again showing he has learned nothing from the mistakes he's made in the last few weeks. when it comes to the big debates facing our country, paul ryan either has an extremely poor memory or has a tendency to play fast and loose with the facts. i falsely blamed president obama for shuttering the g.m. plant that announced it was closing during presiden president bush'.
12:03pm
for $the medicare savings that congressman ryan included in his own budget. now, that's just a sampling. that's just a sampling. and just yesterday he did it again. there you go again, paul ryan. he was back at a speech in wisconsin. he blamed the president -- solely the president -- for the year-end trigger, the sequestration that was part of the budget control act. never mind that congressman ryan voted for the very same sequestration himself. never mind it was his side's idea, in fact, to hold our credit rating hostage in the first place and insist on thighn these dollar-for-dollar cuts that yo he now derise. if he had opposed the sequestration proposal, it
12:04pm
certainly would have failed. now he goes to wisconsin and says the president is to blame for sequestration. it is the same thing he did with simpson-bowles. it is not fair. it is not right. all we could do -- all one can do is shake their head at this kind of "whoas good for me is not good for you." this kind of double standard. so i'd say to paul ryan, you haven't learned much from your mistakes of the past few weeks. there you go again p. your budget proves it and you're even up to your speeches yesterday prove it again. madam president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
12:05pm
12:06pm
12:07pm
mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you. madam president, today marks 18 years -- the presiding officer: i'm sorry. the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent to call off the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you. madam president, today marks 18 years to the day since president
12:08pm
clinton signed the violence against women act into law, and since that day, this law has protected countless women across the country, as seen most directly by the fact that annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60%. today also marks a far more solemn day in history. today is also the 139th day of delay by the house of representatives since the senate passed an inclusive, bipartisan voaa bill. it marks 139 days since house republicans decided not to follow suit and instead pass a version of our legislation that stripped vital protections included in our senate bill, provisions that protect some of the most at-risk women in our country. it has now been 139 days since
12:09pm
15 senate republicans stood up to join with us to pass this legislation because they knew the history of this bill. they knew that every time the violence against women act has been reauthorized, it has consistently included bipartisan provisions to expand protections to women who were not previously covered. they understand that domestic violence protections for all women shouldn't be a democratic or a republican issue. so, madam president, i hope that speaker boehner and our colleagues in the house hear this. we are not backing down, and we will keep fighting. 13 days is inex-- 139 days is inexcusable. in fact, one day is inexcusable. it is now time, long past time, for speaker bainer to look beyond ideology and partisan politics. their object trucks clearly is taking a toll on women across this country.
12:10pm
in fact, for native and immigrant women, and lgbt individuals, other moment that vawa is delayed is another moment they are left without the protections they deserve. the numbers are staggering. one in three native women will be raped in their lifetimes. two in five are victims of domestic violence, and native women are killed at ten times the rate of the nationalage of. these shocking statistics are not isolated to one group of women. 25% to 35% of women in the lgbt women experience domestic violence in their relationship and fle three in four abused immigrant women never enter the process to obtain legal status even though they were eligible because their abuser husbands
12:11pm
never filed the paperwork. now, madam president, while these numbers are frightening, what's even tougher is when you sit down face to face with women who are at risk of being left out of this bill. over this last august recess, i held a number of round tables in different corners of my state with women who'd been trapped in abusive relationships. many of them are from the communities of women that the house republicans refuse to extend these provisions to. through painful memories and many tears, they told me about how they feel all alone. numerous women who are immigrants talked about how they were scared for themselves or their children, so they didn't report their husbands or boyfriends. tribal women talked about how not only have they been abuse -- been abused but how then they had to watch their abuser do the same thing to other women on their reservation, with no
12:12pm
recourse. every moment the house continues to delay is another moment that these women and 30 million women like them are left without the protections they deserve. these statistics should make it perfectly clear to our colleagues in the other chamber that their current inaction has a real impact on the lives of women across america who are affected by violence. where a person lives, their imgrabbingmigration status, who they -- their immigration status, who they love should not determine whether the perpetrators are brought to justice. madam president, these women cannot afford any further delay, not on this bill. we all know what it will take to move this bill forward: leadership from speaker boehner. and, madam president, today the forts we started here in the senate in may and will be continued as long as it takes is call for the very same thing: leadership. it is time for speaker boehner
12:13pm
to look at the history of a bill that again and again has been supported and expanded by both republicans and democrats. for 18 years this bill has expanded protection for vulnerable women. for the last 139 days, speaker boehner and those house republicans have put this legacy at risk. it's time for them to do the right thing and pass the senate's inclusive, bipartisan, violence against women act. senator leahy is chair of the judicial committee and will be here shortly. he has put tremendous effort in making sure this bill is passed in a way that includes women across this country. we owe him a debt of gratitude. all the members of the judiciary committee, some of them who will be here today over the next hour to talk about this. but again we are here today to remind everyone, there are women in this country who do not receive the protections of the domestic violence law that was passed. we are here to make sure that we're going to stand up for them and keep pushing until speaker
12:14pm
boehner takes up this bill and passes it to protect women. madam president, i see senator leahy arriving on the floor, just as i was speaking about him. again be, he will be talking about this, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for standing up and fighting for women across this country, but especially this time for fighting to make sure this is an inclusive bill passed on a bipartisan vote out of the senate and one that will change the lives of so many women. we owe it to them. and speaker boehner owes it to them to take up this bill and pass it. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i thank the distinguished senator for her kind comments. as she knows, this is an issue that whether it is washington state or the state of vermont, it is a major, major issue that
12:15pm
she has voted for and supported the leahy-crapo bill, as has the distinguished presiding officer. and i've said so many times on this floor that violence is violence is violence, abuse is abuse is abuse. and this should not be a partisan issue. two weeks ago, in tampa, republican leaders from congress and around the country sought to make clear their commitment to advancing causes important to women. well, i'll say as a democrat i was pleased to see that commitment from the republican party, but now i hope to put those words into action and prove that this was not just
12:16pm
campaign rhetoric. and so i would -- they have not asked me for advice, i would give some advice to my republican friends. if they do want to show their commitment to women, one significant step republicans take would be to help us reauthorize the violence against women act. it was signed into law 18 years ago today. 18 years ago today. i remember that day. i was there. as one of those who helped draft it, i was so proud to see it signed into law. this landmark bill which fundamentally changed the way our country responds to domestic and sexual violence expired though one year ago this month. now, there's no good reason why we can't all work together to see this life serving law is reauthorized immediately.
12:17pm
this should not be a republican or a democratic issue. it is an american issue. how can people say that they're not opposed to violence against women? just yesterday the republican attorney general from utah and the democratic attorney general from maryland, people completely different philosophies, called on congress to pass the senate bill. it covers all victims, including immigrant women, in a guest plumb in "politico," the two noted the bill would give a significant boost for law enforcement and public safety. the same time they said the politically charged house bill seeks to turn a bipartisan concern for abuse survivors into a partisan wedge. and dramatically rolls back important protections for battered immigrant women and their children.
12:18pm
i ask consent the column be made part of the congressional record at the end of my comments. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: now, if continued calls for action, we know the leahy-crapo reauthorization bill passed the senate with a strong bipartisan majority of 68 votes. and it was voted for, every woman in the senate, republican, democratic alike, voted for it. but republican leaders in both the house and the senate have hidden behind a procedural technicality. they've refused to allow the house to vote on the senate bill. too many lives are on the line to play these political games. here in the senate we've twice asked the republican leaders to take up the bill, substitute amendment the bipartisan senate
12:19pm
vawa bill and send it immediately to the house. each time they have refused this commonsense resolution. you know, this contrasts how we moved forward earlier this year using the same process to overcome similar technical hurdles with both the transportation bill and the f.a.a. reauthorization legislation. so just a little bit of cooperation from the other side we would move vawa now. people watching this and listening might think these technical, arcane procedures, and they are technical and arcane procedures, but they're stopping us from moving forward with the violence against women act. we could set them aside for transportation and f.a.a., both important things, but if you're somebody who has been battered and abused, if you're near death, don't talk to that
12:20pm
person about technicalities. madam president, i've said many times on this floor, i still have nightmares from some of the crime scenes i went to as a young prosecutor. it was always at 2:00 and 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. the ones easiest to handle were those where the victim lived, although sometimes just barely. i remember riding in the ambulance with a victim on the way to the emergency room to find out what happened. many other times we were there waiting for the coroner to arrive because the body was on the floor. i wish everybody who is hiding behind these technicalities to come with those of us, both parties, those of us who have been prosecutors, have gone to those crime scenes.
12:21pm
and i guarantee you they'd be back here saying get rid of those technicalities. i can't understand the house republican leader hiding behind this excuse to avoid debating and voting on the bipartisan intabl. this is a bill that brought republicans and democrats together in this body across the political spectrum. the house republican leadership should stop blocking this on this obscure technicality. the speaker can waive the technicality. the house could vote on the senate bill any time. and i would like to see people stand up and say yes, i want stop violence against women or i'm going to vote no. right now they're allowed to vote maybe. no victim wants to hear maybe.
12:22pm
no victim wants to hear maybe. they want us to do something. both in the house and the senate we have a privileged position as members. don't hide behind a technicality. have the courage, have the courage, stand up and vote yes or no. the house republicans could have allowed a vote on the text of the senate bill as a house amendment or house bill. instead they're choosing to hold up vawa reauthorization for all victims. please reconsider. move forward with us to protect all victims of violence. and if you're unwilling to do that, if you're going to stand behind this, don't go home and campaign and say you have a commitment to women. battered women are in all categories. they go across all political
12:23pm
spectrum. they go across all economic spectrums. don't go back home and say i'm standing up for you. no, you're not standing up. you're hiding. you're hiding. you're hiding behind a technicality. well, these victims can't hide. they are sought out and they become victims. let's do something for them. our bill was developed with the input of victims. the service providers who work with them day in and day out. it helps women who are victims of terrible crimes. the very people that we claim we want to support and protect, does so in an important and responsible ways. don't go home and say i stand up for all of you, don't go home and say i'm standing for law enforcement, don't go home and say i want people protected when you refuse to step around a
12:24pm
procedural motion and protect them. don't be that hypocritical. we have only a few precious days left in this congress to reauthorize the violence against women act. the republican leadership want to to help in domestic and sexual violence, do so. now is the time to act. don't hide behind fiction. have the courage to stand up and say you're on the side of victims. and if you're not on their side, then stand up and vote against them. don't vote maybe. don't hide. it's time to make good on our promise to the victims of these horrible crimes. help them, no matter who they are, has to be our goal. their lives depend upon it. our lives don't depend upon it but their lives depend upon it. they're counting on this, madam president. it's time to stand up. i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
12:25pm
quorum call: a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: madam president, before senator leahy leaves the floor --. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mrs. boxer: i ask it be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: before senator leahy leaves the floor threat me thank him from the bottom of my heart. he can help women of this country avoid needless, senseless, dangerous voons and -- violence, and i stand here to support his efforts, the leahy-crapo bill is the bill we need to pass. why? because it is the bill that includes everyone. we don't want to leave out 30 million people. we don't want to leave 30 million people out of the violence against women act. that's what the house of representatives does.
12:26pm
because they leave out immigrant people, they leave out the gay and lev community, they -- lesbian community, they leave out students and native americans. when you look at those women in those groups, you find out indeed, they have a very high percentage of violence in their communities, violence against women that leaves women in deep trouble and threatens their lives. so only the leahy-crapo bill, only the senate bill which passed here with such a great number of votes, can include everyone. so if you take, for example, christina in my home state of california whose boss threatened her with deportation unless she complied with his demands for sex, she's not covered in the house bill.
12:27pm
this is a woman held hostage by her boss and he is using his power over her, and she's not covered by the house bill. the house bill, again, fails to protect lgbt individuals when they have problems with abusive partners and have been turned away in the past from shelters because the violence against women act did not cover the lgbt community. mika is student who struggled to get her college to enforce a restraining order against her boyfriend after he assaulted her and stalked her. she shouldn't have had to struggle and under the leahy-crapo ?apt senate violence against women act, mika will be covered. now, then-senator joe biden, now vice president biden, wrote the violence against women act. it was a long time ago,
12:28pm
madam president. i was in the house and i was so honored when joe biden came and asked me to carry the version, the house version of the bill. i did that and i remember being so proud because snow was such a -- joe was such a leader on this and he had the faith in me to ask me to help him. but i can tell you it was a struggle to get it done. it took several years to get it done and when i got to the senate, i watched joe biden team up with senator hatch and i helped them on the floor. i was only able to get a portion of the bill passed in the house, so there was a lot more we needed to do. and we did it. so i want read a statement that vice president biden made -- is it today? today, he just sent it out because it speaks to this issue. he said 18 years ago today, the landmark violence against women act was signed into law. it was founded on the basic premise that every woman
12:29pm
deserves to be safe from violence and since its passage we've made tremendous strides towards achieving that goal. we gave law enforcement and the courts more tools to combat domestic violence and hold offenders accountable. we created a national hotline to direct victims to lifesaving assistance and since vawa passed, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60%. madam president, it's important to reflect on what vice president biden is saying. because of the violence against women act, we have seen a drop in the annual rate of domestic violence by more than 60%, and now we are here to say let's make it even better by including 30 million people who were left out of the bill. so we have more work to do. this is quoting from the vice president. he says three women still die every day as a result of domestic violence. one in five women have been
12:30pm
raped, many as tainlers, and one in six women have been victims of stalking. and he writes while women and girls face these devastating realities every day, reauthorizing of a strengthened vawa languishes. vawa is just as important today as it was when it first became law and he writes i urge congress to keep the promise we made to our daughters and our granddaughters on that day, that we would work together to keep them safe. so in closing, because i see senator coons is here and we're so happy that he's here to talk on this issue, i feel it's important to note that over 900 groups nationwide have signed a letter in support of a bill that includes these 30 million people, that includes everyone. and we know this law is working. so on today, the 18th anniversary of the violence against women act, being signed into law by bill clinton, let's
12:31pm
pass legislation and send it to president obama. legislation that strengthens the law, is bipartisan like the leahy-crapo bill, and includes everyone. thank you so much and i yield the floor. mr. coons: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: i rise today in honor of the 18th anniversary of the signing of the violence against women act into law. and as my good friend and colleague, the senator from california, has just reminded all of us, it is my home state senator, now our vice president, joe biden, whose leadership in getting the violence against women act signed into law in the first place moved us in this country towards a society that is more just, that is more safe, that is more welcoming, and it is in my view incredibly discouraging that we are fighting today here in the congress a battle that he made such great early progress on and that should have been won decades ago. why must we fight, madam president, in 2012 such a
12:32pm
protracted legislative battle to maintain, strengthen and secure the rights of more than half the population of this country, and to extend the life serving programs -- life lifesaving. it's cannot be because those who oppose vawa's reauthorization believe that violence against women is no longer a threat. in my home depot county, new castle county, delaware, earlier this year a 3457b was arrested after a horrifying assault on his ex-girlfriend committed in front of all five of her chirp. the victim's teenage son called 911 in a panic, terrified. this incident, one of, sadly, many in my home community is just another stark example of how domestic violence continues to hurt and harm not just its victims but entire families, not just the women or occasionally men who are the victims of domestic violence but the children who witness it and
12:33pm
whose lives are changed by it. in a world where this sort of violence, madam president, continues to happen in all our communities we still need the violence against women act. and we need it to be reauthorized, we need it to be reauthorized and strengthened, we need it to be reauthorized, strengthened, and broadened. it has been a full year, madam president, since vawa expired. and still we do not have a reauthorization signed be a into law. reauthorization is a real opportunity one built into the initial act that requires us as a body, the house and senate together, to sit down and sift through the data and to exane how these programs can be better, stronger, more efficient, more effective. every five years we have to take a hard look at where we're failing and where we're succeeding and this important work against domestic violence, a scourge that lives in the dark throughout our community. here in the senate, we've done that work. the house sadly has not. and in my view, we must not let
12:34pm
them be a roadblock in the critical progress we've been called upon to make. this is our time to make the necessary changes to improve vawa and to reauthorize it and we will not back down. in this year's reauthorization we had a number of critical changes, positive claings, 5, and two that are particularly important to me. first, ensuring every victim of abuse in this country is able to count on the law to protect them regardless of who they are, where they are or whom they love. and second, ensuring we reduce bureaucracies and strengthen accountability to ensure taxpayer dollars authorized through vawa are spent wisely and responsibly and effectively. the senate reauthorization moves us forward by adding protections for victims of domestic violence regardless of their sexual orientation. the reality is, madam president, as we learned in reexamining vawa in the experience of the last five years, sadly the reality is lesbian, gay, and
12:35pm
transgendered americans experienced domestic violence at the same percentage as relationships in the general population, a shocking 25% to 30 pars% of all relationships. yet nearly half of all lgbt victims are turned away from shelters and a quarter are unjustly arrested as if they were the perpetrators. the senate reauthorization makes plain that discrimination is not the policy of these united states. it says no program funded by federal vawa dollars can turn away a domestic violence victim because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, whether the victim is gay or straight, american indian, white, black or latino, in my view, madam president, and in the view of so many in this chamber, they deserve protection from abuse and justice for their abusers. there are two other important changes in this vawa reauthorization as passed through the senate. both of which help ensure we bring perpetrators to justice no national who their victims are
12:36pm
or where the claims are committed. these help law enforcement to secure needed testimony from victims who are unwilling to come forward due to reasonable fears of deportation. so in total, all three of these important changes to the substance and scope of vawa i think strengthen it, i think carry forward its initial spirit and i think are completely appropriate things for this senate and the house to do in our every five-year reconsideration and reauthorization of vawa. it is important to remember, madam president, that vawa goes beyond against basic justice for our fellow citizens. it supports the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes. delaying this reauthorization means denying essential tools to law enforcement officers in my home state of delaware, in your home state of north carolina and all across our country. as someone who used to be directly responsible for a county police department that worked in close partnership with all the different elements, all
12:37pm
the different nonprofit groups and civic and community groups, all the elements from corrections to law enforcement to advocates to providers of services that are brought together in a positive and cohesive way by vawa. i know how important this is to a holistic approach to combating domestic violence. if we are to tackle a problem this large, this pervasive, this dangerous, we need well-trained and dedicated law enforcement officers. we also need support from a whole community to provide the whole broad range of services that can continue to make progress in pressing back on this evil in our country. in delaware, that's exactly what we've done. in delaware, vawa has fostered a community of those dedicated to reducing violence, allowing each group to reinforce the other and adding value that individual programs alone could not create. vawa touches on everything from transitional housing to national hotlines, from the safe exchange of children, to increased awareness on college campuses,
12:38pm
from law enforcement grants in rural communities to sexual assault service programs in urban communities not only for women, for men, for children, for whole families and whole communities. vawa is an important piece of legislation. and it sits unauthorized in the other chamber of this congress is to me a great shame and a great tragedy. we must not allow this anniversary of its initial signing into law to pass without redoubling our efforts and redoubling our commitment. my opponents who oppose this put all this at risk. they insist on excluding some of our friends and neighbors just because of their background or their sexual orientation is unconscionable. we will keep fighting to secure vawa reauthorization this year because the safety of our communities depends on it and simple justice calls for it. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor.
12:39pm
madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
12:40pm
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. a senator: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: madam president, i'm here today to talk about the violence against women reauthorization act which, as you know, we passed in april with the leadership of senator leahy, the cosponsorship of senator crapo. ms. klobuchar: we got that strong bipartisan bill through the a 68-31-vote and as you know, all women senators, democrats and republicans, supported that bill. just like the two prior reauthorizations from 2000 and 2006, this bill improves upon current law in many ways to better address domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. we've heard from a long list of experts on our judiciary committee about the changes that were needed for this reauthorization and we incorporated those ideas and language from people on the
12:41pm
front lines. as a result, this bill, this bipartisan reauthorization bill, is strongly supported by law enforcement, victim service providers and faith groups from across the country. i want to talk, too, about some of the many ways that this year's reauthorization bill builds upon the improvements that past reauthorizations made. but first i think it's important to mention the bipartisanship bill -- bipartisan bill does not ignore the current budget climate. it consolidates 13 budget programs into only four. so when i hear people talk about, well, should we just let the old bill keep going for awhile? this bill is actually better from an efficiency standpoint. it consolidates 13 programs into four in an effort to reduce duplication and bureaucratic red tape. it also cuts the authorization level for vawa by more than $135 million a year. that's a 17% decrease from the 2006 reauthorization. so there was a clear acknowledgment that our country
12:42pm
is going to have to make some changes with our fiscal situation as we go into this next year and that was one of the reasons that this new bill, this reauthorization was so important. we are doing more with less. no existing grant program receives an increase in authorization levels in this bill and the legislation creates only one new program at $5 million a year. that new program will support tribal efforts to combat domestic violence on reservations. in terms of policy, one of the biggest changes in this year's violence against women authorization is a greater focus on preventing and responding to sexual assault. we still have a lot of work to do in reducing sexual assault in america, where nearly one in five swrem been raped at some point in their lives and where 42% of these women were raped before the age of 18. as a former prosecutor, i'm all too aware of the fact that prosecution and conviction rates for sexual assault are among the
12:43pm
lowest for any violent crime. so in an effort to solve the problem, this year's reauthorization opens up funding to programs that are more directly responsive to the needs of sexual assault survivors. i will say, i woke up this morning to read my hometown paper in the twin cities and see that a 30-year-old rape murder case was solved. 30 years old. you think of the new technology that's available now. it was solved because they had kept the d.n.a. at the s they were able to match it to someone in another state who had been imprisoned, and they were able to charge that case. think of the justice for those family members and also for the rest of the country, where you know that hopefully this conviction will be made and there will be -- they will be able to make sure that this person is behind bars forever. these are the kinds of things that happen these days with the new technology we have. but unless we have people trained to use that technology, unless we have people that are able to work with victims, unless we have victims that feel comfortable coming forward when
12:44pm
they are sexually assaulted or are a victim of domestic assault, none of it means anything to the system, and that's why the vawa bill is so important. another area of improvement with this bill is the effort to more effectively provide services to victims from traditionally underserved communities. this bill adds new definitions that will help make sure that vawa funded programs provide a wider variety of services that address the needs of racial and ethnic minorities. as chairman leahy's committee report points out, studies indicate that women of color are reluctant to turn to traditional domestic violence programs and culturally specific programming may be more effective in meeting their needs. a recent national institute of justice study found that women of color may be less likely to receive all the services they need. domestic violence and sexual assault are problems that affect everyone in this country and this new bill, this reauthorization bill recognizes that fact. the senate's version of the vawa
12:45pm
reauthorization also includes a number of improvements that specifically address needs of women living in tribal areas. it is a sad reality that native american women experience rates of domestic violence and sexual assault that are significantly higher than the national average. and so the vawa reauthorization strengthens existing efforts to confront the ongoing epidemic of violence on tribal land by expanding the tools available to federal law enforcement. the judiciary committee worked closely with the indian affairs committee to respond to the frighteningly high levels of sexual assaults in tribal areas. one important provision gives tribal courts jurisdiction over a nonnative american who has committed acts of domestic violence against native american women in a small subset of cases that meet three specific criteria. number one, the crime must have occurred on a reservation.
12:46pm
number two, the crime must be domestic violence. and, number three, the defendant must live on a reservation sms. why did we do this? we know that lot of these cases weren't being reported, these cases weren't being prosecuted. it is very difficult for state and federal authorities with the limited resources to come in and handle these cases. it was simply a pragmatic response to a legal issue, and it is something, as i said, in the senate got broad, bipartisan support. we have a significant native american population in my state, so this change and several others will be very helpful in cracking down on these crimes. i'll mention one part of this reauthorization that i worked hard on and i see that senator hutchison of texas is in the chamber and it is good to see her because i am going to be talking about the amendment that she and i worked on together, and that is an updating of our stocking laws. current law focuses on what the victim knows and requires
12:47pm
prosecutors to show that the victim felt a certain level of fear in order to achieve a conviction. certain stalkers, people who are putting camera equipment in and looking at people in peep hot holes, sometimes the victims of those kinds of crimes aren't even aware of what the stalker is doing until later, until they see a pictur picture of them sef undressing, being districted across the entire country on the internet. that's a real case that happened in this country with the sports roamplet those are the kinds of things that we're seeing. while they're experiencing it, they don't have that level of fear because it happens later. so all we have done is update the stalking law to make it as sophisticated as the people that are trying to commit the crimes.
12:48pm
these are just a sampling of some of the important changes in this reauthorization bill. it is basically about making the violence against women act, which has been so important to our country and to women had this country, to make it more efficient and to update it for where the real needs are. things change over time. you learn new law enforcement techniques and you have to be able to be able to put those in afntle that's what this is about. for me, this is about officer sean snyder, an officer that gets called to a scene to respond to a domestic violence crime. goes up to the front door, don't opens, 1-year-ol 17-year-old via clearliage tatted, mentally ill perpetrator. ends up shooting the officer. he dies a few days later, leaving behind a wide doug widoe little kids. the last time the family had been in church was for the
12:49pm
church pageant. the next time was for the funeral of their father. a little girl with a blue dress covered in stars, a little girl walking down that church aisle. that's what i remember. and when you see that kind of thing, you know one thing: domestic violence doesn't have one victim. it has an entire family as a victim, an entire community and an entire nation. when that officer was called to that screarntion he did not ask, oh, is the victim americanian, gay, a man, a woman, he did not ask, he showed up at the scene. it is time for us to do our job. we should get to this done. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: madam president, i am pleased to follow the senator from minnesota because we did work on a piece of legislation which she
12:50pm
perfected. it was my bill that first passed on stalking that would take the antistalking laws nationwide because so often that happens across state lines. and we had too put all of that together so that if someone did cross state lines to stalk a woman or her children or a man or anyone, that that would be prosecutable. and i was so pleased that senator klobuchar then came in this year with a bill, which i was proud to cosponsor, that updated the technology that these criminals use to harass and scare and really make life miserable for people that they know, and i had a stalker myself for about 12 years, and i didn't know him. but he certainly did make my
12:51pm
life different, that's for sure. and sometimes it's worse than what i had, because it's actual threats. and i'll never forget the time that i got a call from an attorney in the u.s. attorney's office in austin, texas, he said, i just wanted you know that we got our first conviction under your antistalking law, and it was a man who wa was harassig his ex-wife and children and his children, threatening with a gun, and we were able to put him away and make that little family a lot safer. and i thought, you know, we live to actually know that something we've done makes a dins sm diff. and i thank the senator from minnesota for carrying that forward. i rise today, madam president, to -- i'm going to talk about
12:52pm
neil armstrong and about n.a.s. sax i can't stand here today with what's going on in the middle east and not just say that i join the thousands and maybe millions of others who mourn the loss of a united states ambassador who was killed in libya. and, you know, i would mourn any united states ambassador who was killed in the line of duty, but it makes it even harder when we know that this one was doing such a great job. christopher stevens hadgien his wife, real -- had given his life, really, to try to make peace and to try to be a force for the poisive in th positive e east. and he was our ambassador libya. and i am sad to say that it appears that this was a plot -- it was not an accident, it wasn't something that happened
12:53pm
because he happened to be in the consulate; it apparently was a premeditated murder of our ambassador, and i know the whole country mourns the loss of someone who tries so hard to do what is right and to have this happen. so, i want to pay my respects to him and to all who knew and worked with him and to say that, in my travel that i have been so fofortunate to make as a united states senator, i am so impressed with the representatives of the united states in our embassies and consulates throughout the world. our foreign service representatives of our country do a fabulous job, and they do take their lives and put them in danger sometimes, especially in countries that are strife-torn,
12:54pm
as certainly libya is right now and egypt as well. and my great respect goes out to our foreign service community, and i think we have just been reminded of the service they give and the sacrifices they make. madam president, i wanted to rise today to talk about the life of at gentle giant, neil armstrong, and also about the future of nasa. this is all came together this week because i have just left the national cathedral where i joined congressional colleagues, senators, and many others in paying our final respects to a man who unquestionably was a true american hero. we know that neil armstrong made world history when he stepped out on the moon's surface for the first time that an american did so, and he said the words that will be forever enshrined in american consciousness.
12:55pm
they say that some seek fame and some have it thrust on them. neil armstrong was the rare man who earned his fame and yet shied away from it at every turn. he preferred to live the life of, as he described it himself, a white sock, pocket-protector in other words, in other wordsy engineer. he chose to live a private life rather than bask in well-deserved glorly and for that he was more than a hero. he was a role model that we would all be fortunate to follow. we have too few of those today, as we know. neil armstrong served his country in korea, where he was a fighter pilot and actually was shot dowfnlt he served certainly at as soon as, which we all know, and he served his community as a professor at the university of cincinnati. he was a serious, dedicated scientist who loved what he did
12:56pm
and just wanted to get the job done. there's a story about him during training before the moon landing when his vehicle forced an ejection. now, his only injury was biting his own tongue. but it was near-death, nonetheless, a very lucky escape. another astronaut saw neil working at his desk and he said that he had heard about neil being thrown out of his vehicle and then he asked when it happened, and neil said, "about an hour ago." the snor astronaut alan bean thn said, i can't think of another astronaut who would have just gone back to his office after ejecting a fraction of a second before getting killed." i was lucky enough to know neil armstrong. we first met when he and two
12:57pm
other astronauts expressed concern about the administration's proposal to abandon nasa's manned space exploration program. they wrote an open letteres and let me tell you, when the first and last man to set foot on the mooning have an issue with the -- on the moon have an issue with the direction of nasa, everybody listened. it was a rare occasion that these astronaut leaders would speak publicly on such an issue, and considering neil's propensity to should i away from the spotlight, it had even more significance. but he thought it was important, and a great bipartisan number of our colleagues agreed that it was important that he chose to speak out on this very important issue. the plan proposed canceling the existing space exploration program and to suspend plans to
12:58pm
build a replacement for the space shuttle. it placed immediate reliance on commercial capabilities, which at the time were undeveloped and unproven. neil was particularly concerned about leaning too heavily lier n commercial crew vehicles because he rightly believed that nasa should have ultimate ownership and stewardship of the next phase of deep-space exploration. when i asked if that group would testify before the commerce committee to give us the benefit of their immense experience, neil armstrong and gene cernan were able to do it. their testimony in may of 2010 helped us craft the nasa reauthorization act of 2010 in which we managed to pass a balanced plan that prioritized nasa's development of future exploration beyond low-earth orbit while putting significant
12:59pm
resources into commercial development of crew vehicles to the space station. we passed it unanimously in the united states senate, very bipartisan, and we passed it on neil armstrong's birth tai. -- birthday, august 5, 2010. when the space shuttle was retired, some thought the space program was ended. you know, i took a group of cub scouts actually to johnson space center in houston just a few months ago. they have a great program for our scouts -- well, for any group that actually wants to go and spend the night at the visitors center and they get to tour nasa and hear about the great feats of our country in space. and one of the little boyce said to our nasa administrator -- and one of the little boys said to our nasa administrator at
1:00pm
johnson, "gosh, i'm really sorry the space program is ending." and i was shocked, and he was shocked, and we said, oh, but it is not ending. the space program is not ending. if we allow people to think, if we allow our young possible next generation of astronauts and scientists to think that the program is ending, are they going to be inspired to take those courses in air owe aeronal engineering that will give them that background to propel them to the next level of space exploration that is going to do things that maybe we haven't even thought of yet? it would eliminate the potential that manned space exploration can produce in the next decade. we had a commerce committee hearing yesterday where we heard from the nasa scientists about the mars recovery called
1:01pm
curiosity. it was just breathtaking to hear the advancements that we have made with that rover that is now plodding around exploring both the dirt and the rocks and the atmosphere that is on mars. one of the scientists pointed out that these nasa programs aren't just about exploration, they result in technologies that we use every day. and that make our lives better right here on earth. one pointed out that curiosity is the first step in the next frontier of space, probing the atmosphere and geology of mars. and each mission will build on the success of the last. and these robots and rovers that are going up now will be the precursors to the time when we're going to put people,
1:02pm
astronauts, on mars. there are myriad practical results from nasa's programs, and as many reasons to keep them alive and fully funded. but i think the astronauts, neil armstrong, jim lovell and gene cernan put it best in their open level. america's space accomplishments earned the respect and admiration of the world. science probes were unlocking the secrets of the cosmos. space technology was providing instantaneous worldwide communication. orbital were -- sent nelts nels were underring the vagaries of nature. people around the world were inspired by the human exploration of space and the expanding of man's frontier. it suggested that what had been thought to be impossible was now within reach. thank goodness gene cernan was
1:03pm
one of those who gave the eulogy today at neil armstrong's memorial service at the national cathedral. he gave a personal account, and they were very close friends, they went fishing together, they had a long-term and lasting mutual respect and admiration and friendship. america cannot lose its preeminence in space. we are the leaders of the free world, and we are the natural leaders beyond its atmosphere. this is not done in dominance or hegemoniy but to ensure that technology can be used for our economic benefit. the satellites that we have discovered with the space exploration have transformed communications, and satellite-guided missiles have given us defense capabilities that hit the target with less collateral damage. this is my last of 19 wonderful
1:04pm
years in the united states senate. during which i have championed and fought for nasa and our manned spacecraft and space flight program. i have worked with so many dedicated colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and i am proud of what we've accomplished. i am asking that my colleagues do not let all of the hard work of the past be for nothing. we saved the manned exploration program, but there's so much more to be done. nasa must continue to be a priority. you know, i'm a budget cutter. i will match anyone with the budget cutting that i think we need to do in this country. but the key for congress is to remember what the constitution says, and that is purse strings belong to congress. so what our responsibility is is to set that cap on spending,
1:05pm
set that cap at the lowest level that we can and cover our functions that are necessary to run the government of this country. you know, the normal average spending of the federal government is about 20% of our gross domestic product. we're up into 25% and 26% in the last few years. we've got to come back. got to come back to 20%. may have to go to 18% in order to end at 20%. but we must not refuse to set the priorities that will make sure we have an economy in the future. we must invest in the programs that will yield the benefits that will keep our economy going and our people working and our engineers able to continue to produce the great things that have happened in our space
1:06pm
program, in our medical research, and more. this is so important to all of us. america's competitiveness depends on maintaining our dominance in science and technology. we cannot do it without nasa. neil armstrong left his mark on the american people and on generations around the globe. this is his enduring legacy. ours must be to maintain the great organization nasa that made him a legend and helped make america the greatest nation on earth. thank you, madam president. and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. i am here on the floor again today as i try to be every week
1:07pm
to speak about the continuing effects of carbon pollution on our planet, on our climate, on our oceans. we've been away for the august recess, so it has been a while since i've done that, but august has been somewhat eventful. we've had two party conventions and we've had continued news about what is happening to our climate and to our world. the national national oceanic and atmospheric administration reported that july was the hottest month ever in the contiguous united states in their 118 years of keeping records. according to noaa's state of the climate reports, nearly 63% of
1:08pm
the country experienced moderate to exceptional drought in july and august. it is affecting all sorts of folks. farmers, obviously. unexpectedly high spring temperatures, for instance, decimated tart cherry production in northwest michigan, where 75% of the country's tart cherries are grown. freezing weather followed by a warmer than usual spring destroyed the cherry buds and more than 90% of that crop was lost. grapes and peaches and apple harvests were also affected. losses are estimated at $210 million making this year the worst year on the books for michigan fruit. just to give one example. things, was also affected. over the weekend, a "washington
1:09pm
post" article documented electricity generating facilities struggling to supply consistent levels of electric generation because of these drought conditions. lake mead, hoover dam's reservoir, fell 103 feet below its targeted capacity. low water levels have behindered barge transport of coal up the mississippi river. eight coal-fired and nuclear power plants in illinois needed special permission to discharge cooling water that exceeded the federal clean water permit ceiling of 90 degrees. nasa scientists james hamson published a study last month concluding that the 2011 heat waves in texas and in oklahoma as well as the heat wave at that
1:10pm
time in russia, were likely caused by climate change, by the carbon pollution that we are emitting. on the analysis that what the carbon pollution in our climate does is to load the climate dice in favor of more and more extreme storms and extreme conditions like these heat waves. last week, the university of colorado's national snow and ice data center and nasa announced together that arctic sea ice has reached a record low of 1.58 million square miles, nearly 70,000 square miles smaller than the previous modern low. and, of course, there are still weeks to go in the melting season. so it will be a lower record than that.
1:11pm
in the past three decades, the annual average temperatures have increased twice as much over the arctic as over the rest of the world. the arctic is really the leading edge for the climate changes that are occurring as a result of our carbon pollution. the average extent of the arctic sea ice has declined by 25% to 30%, and the rate of that decline is accelerating. habitats are changing, extreme weather is increasing, species are moving, oceans are warming, and rising, and republicans and special interests are denying.
1:12pm
they insist on keeping their heads in the sand, in this case given the source of much of the denial propaganda, it's probably safe to say that they have their heads in the oil sands. the conventions that took place over august were instructive. i believe that history will look back at the republican -- the republican convention as a disgrace of climate denial in the face of the mounting facts. by contrast, president obama pointed out clearly, simply, and plainly that carbon
1:13pm
pollution is heating our planet, that climate change is not a hoax, that more droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke, that they are a threat to our children's future. i applaud the president for his leadership in this way. he was not the only democratic leader to touch on this issue. senator kerry who gave a brilliant and passionate speech on the floor before the august recess, in his remarks said this, "despite what you heard in tampa, the site of the republican convention, an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the planet. that is a responsibility from the scriptures, and that, too, is a responsibility of the
1:14pm
leader of the free world." president clinton in his wonderful, magisterial speech, lauded the agreement the administration made, the bomtion made -- obama administration made to double car mileage. he pointed out that was a good deal. it will make us more energy independent, it will cut greenhouse gas emissions and he added it will bring another half million new good jobs into the american economy. congressman barney frank of massachusetts reminded us of the romney who understood climate change, who as romney said was for climate change, i think he meant doing something about climate change, back when he was governor of massachusetts, and now there is a different
1:15pm
romney who believes it is a myth. secretary ken salazar who served with real distinction here in the senate, said of the deniers who to use his words, mock our sacred responsibility as stewards of god's earth, he said this, their attitude isn't just sad, it's reckless and it's backward. tom styer is the cofounder of advanced energy economy. he said this about governor romney: "governor romney's road to the future will lead to dirty air and increasing climate volatility, uncertainty over energy prices and less security, not more." he contrasted that with president obama. president obama's road to the future, he said, will lead us
1:16pm
to energy independence, energy security, a safer and cleaner environment, and countless new jobs that can never be outsourced. and a silent -- as silent and mocking as the republican convention and the republican candidate was on this issue, they have doubled down since then over the weekend on "meet the press," mr. romney restated that he is -- quote -- "not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet." his energy plan makes no mention whatsoever of climate change or of promoting renewable energy technology. instead, it details how the united states can exploit what he calls -- the plat form calls the domestic cornucopia of bar carbon-based energy resources. our platform makes it clear that
1:17pm
we take this seriously. i quote. "we know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation, an economic and violental catastrophe in the making. we affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits. in our national security platform, we state, "the national security threat from climate change is real, urgent and severe. the change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources, new suffering from drought and famine, catastrophic
1:18pm
natural disasters, and the degradation of vital ecosystems across the globe." by contrast, the republican platform calls on congress to take quick action to prohibit the e.p.a. from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations. we are at history's junction, as shown by these two conventions and these two platforms. the republicans would take us back into the past on a tide of propaganda and denial to serve the special interests of the polluters. the obama administration would take us forward to compete successfully in the world for clean energy innovation, clean
1:19pm
energy technology, and clean energy jobs. it would allow us to meet our responsibility to our children and grandchildren, to leave them a world as good as the one that was left to us. and it would, in addition, show that this great experiment in human liberty, the united states of america, this great democra democracy, is not for sale. the findings that we made in our platform -- i'll quote again -- "we know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation and we affirm the science of climate change," follows the very strong findings of the american scientific community, indeed, the world scientific community.
1:20pm
back in october 2009, a letter from a coalition of respected scientific organizations said this: "observations throughout the world make it clear" -- clear -- "that climate change is occurring and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. these conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science." and these were highly esteemed scientific organizations: the american chemical society, the american meteorological society, the american society of agronomy, the botanical society of america and many, many others. they do not think that the jury
1:21pm
is out on this question. they know that, in fact, the verdict is in and we now have a responsibility to ourselves and to future to act. recently, dr. richard mueller, a querd climate skeptic, released findings from his research which was ironically founded by the koch brothers that the earth's temperature has increased by 2 1/2 degrees in the past 250 years and 1 1/2 degrees of that over the past 150 years. he states -- "it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gasses." and another benchmark was a monitoring station in the arctic that measured carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million for the first time. this is 50 parts per million higher than the maximum concentration of carbon in the
1:22pm
atmosphere at which scientists predict a stable climate. and it is well outside the 170 parts per million to 300 parts per million range of carbon in our atmosphere that has persisted for the last 8,000 centuries. essentially all of human development has taken place within a range of 170-300 parts per million in our atmosphere and we just broke in the arctic 400 parts per million for the first time. we're not just off the road and over the chatter strip, we are way out of history's line. so, again, we are at a junction in history. i urge that we go forward, that we drive our country toward successful competition for a clean energy future, that we meet our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren, and that we prove to ourselves
1:23pm
and to the rest of the world that our great american experiment in human liberty is not for sale to the polluting industries. i thank the presiding officer and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? a senator: thank you, madam president. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. i'd like to take a few minutes today to talk about our nation's economy. this speech is not about the economy that we wish we had. this speech is not about the economy that we used to have. this is about the economy that we have today. by now, americans are all too familiar with the bad economic news. front page of today's "wall street journal" provides little respite from that bad news. it reads -- and here's the headline, front page -- "household income sinks" -- sinks -- "to 1995 level." say that again. "household income sinks to 1995
1:24pm
level." the president talks about moving forward but the reality is that the american paychecks are moving backward. the article goes on to describe a report from the census bureau, a report that illustrates what millions of americans already know -- we're not better off than we were last year, or the year before, or the year before that. in fact, the census bureau data shows that household incomes in 2011 fell for the fourth consecutive year. hardworking americans don't need census data to tell them this. they know it. and all they need to do is to look at their paycheck. for many, it is significantly smaller. while paychecks ton shrink, the cost of everyday -- continue to shrink, the cost of everyday living has gone up. gasoline prices have gone up another 30 cents a gallon in just over a month. americans recently paid the
1:25pm
highest price over a labor day weekend for gasoline. one out of every seven people in america is now on food stamps. in 2008, president obama -- that was before president obama's election, the poverty rate was 13.2% and 38.8 million americans were in poverty. this week's numbers show a 16% increase in just three years. poverty rates remain stuck at its -- at its highest level since 1993. the -- i made many of the same points last week in the response to the president's weekly address, but i feel it's important to make them again. while many americans worry about their shrinking paycheck, far too many others have no paycheck at all. today, today, 23 million americans are unemployed or underemployed. many of these folks are our friends, our neighbors and family members.
1:26pm
the undeniable truth -- the undeniable truth -- is president obama is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president since world war ii. when the president was hyping his so-called stimulus program, his economic team claimed that unemployment would not go above 8% and it would actually be below 6% by now. instead, it's been above 8% now for 43 straight months. according to last week's jobs data, unemployment dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%. well, why did that happen? it didn't drop because of newly created jobs. it dropped because 368,000 americans simply gave up looking for work, they just gave up. with the stimulus bill, the president promised jobs. the only thing he delivered in this was not the jobs but more debt. it's bad enough that the stimulus was wasted. even worse, he borrowed the
1:27pm
money, much of it, from china. the reality is that america is not better off than it was four years ago. in terms of global competitiveness, the united states has dropped for four straight years. when president obama took offi office, we were number one in the world. now we're number seven. why? well, american businesses are at a competitive disadvantage and that's because of our tax rates. they're the highest in the developed world. american businesses are being asked to create jobs in the face of a regulatory onslaught the likes of which we've never seen before. americans know what works. what works here in this country, low taxes, reasonable regulations and living within our means. president john kennedy understood that. he said -- and i quote -- "permanently large deficits would endanger our economic growth and our military and defense commitments abroad." he said that 50 years ago, 196.
1:28pm
-- 1962. washington's budget deficit that year, 1962, was $7 billion. so from $7 billion then to $1.2 trillion this year. for every year since he's taken office, president obama has spent at least a trillion dollars more than washington took in, all of it borrowed. and there is no end in sight. according to the congressional budget office, the government ran a $192 billion deficit last month alone. this is the highest deficit ever for the month of august. under his watch, government continues to spend too much, borrow too much and grow bigger every day. president obama's record of failure has come at a great cost to our country and to our futu future. the president's sproastles failed to produce the -- the president's policies have failed to produce the results,
1:29pm
the accountability and the solutions that the american people deserve. the obama administration is simply not moving our country forward. a healthy economy comes from a growing private sector, yet the president doesn't seem to appreciate or value the private sector. remember he said, if you have a business, you didn't build it, someone else did? well, in wyoming and in communities all across this country, there are bakers and florists and dry cleaners and farmers who did build their businesses and whose families have been working in them for generations. those business owners know what president obama does not. they understand, as ronald reagan put it, that you can't be for big government, big taxes and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy. as a nation, we are being bled by overspending, we're being choked by regulations, and we are being paralyzed by a lack of affordable energy. just look at one of the president's favorite legislative
1:30pm
accomplishments, the president's health care law. the american people knew what they wanted from health care reform. they wanted the care they need, from a doctor that they choose, at a lower costmen -- lower cos. instead, what did they get? they got a $700 billion cut to medicare, a government mandate that everyone must buy insuran insurance, funding for i.r.s. agents to investigate you, but too little money for doctors to treat you. like health care, the american people know exactly what they want from our nation's energy policy. what they want is energy security. yet the president continues to block the keystone pipeline and the oil and the jobs that come with it. the president has wasted millions and millions of taxpayer dollars on solyndra, and the president continues to stifle domestic production of affordable american energy sources like coal while driving
1:31pm
up energy bills for the american people. now, since energy security isn't a priority for this president, what about financial security for your children, your grandchildren? well, washington has piled a mountain of debt on the backs of future generations and the president just keeps adding more. on his watch, the national debt just passed $16 trillion -- $16 trillion -- with no end in sight. esident obama says he deserves a grade of "incomplete" on his handling of the economy. but people only ask for an ink complete grade when they know that they're failing. he's now asking you and all of us to give him more time. the question is, can we afford to give him that time? as i said in the beginning of this address on the floor of the senate, it's not about the economy that we wish we had or about the economy that we used
1:32pm
to have; its about the economy that we have today. it's about reality. instead of giving president obama four more years to continue the policies that have not worked and are not working, it is time for a change. madam president, i'd also like to take a few moments today to talk, as i do each week here in the senate, as a physician and give a doctor's second opinion about the health care law. i come to the senate floor just about every week to talk about the health care law, as someone who's practiced medicine in wyoming for a quarter of a century taking care of families, many, many patients on medicare, and that's what i want to do today is talk about the health care law's impact specifically on our seniors who rely on medicare for their health care. and specifically i want to talk about how this law is going to impact those living in rural and
1:33pm
frontier areas like wyoming. now, i know it can be very challenging for people living in rural communities to get the care they need, especially from a doctor they choose. but the associated press recently described this issue in an article entitled "boomers retiring to rural areas won't find doctors." "boomers retiring to rural areas won't find doctors." the story highlighted the trouble of anina muscleman and the trouble she had finding a doctor when her present doctor moved away. she finally, after a year, found a new permanent provider. the words that she used to describe her experience were, quote, "it's a sad situation fo" well, unfortunately, president
1:34pm
obecause of the president's health care law, the situation in rural communities is only expected to get worse. the article confirms that not only fewer doctors are working rural arks but the program pays doctors less in rural areas. this means that the seniors in rural areas will have evening a greater time -- more difficulty finding a doctor to take care of them. mark pauly, from the university of pennsylvania, put it this way. "if cuts from medicare are allowed to go through, doctors are saying they're out of here." professor paily adds, "the least the doctors are is we'll treat medicare patients like we treat medicaid patients, he adds, which is mostly not." so, over the past two weeks the
1:35pm
republicans and democratic parties have held their nominating conventions, the nation h's had the opportunity to hear -- the nation has had the opportunity to hear both governor romney and president obama, about their accomplishments and visions for america. after hearing's president's speech, i was struck by the fact that he barely mentioned his health care law. the newspaper "politico" stated in back-to-back speeches, "obama and vice president biden all but ignored the affordable care act. this isn't surprising given the fact that the law remains deeply unpopular with the majority of the american people. the latest rasmussen poll found that half of the people surveyed support repealing the health care law. the president and washington democrats might be trying to avoid the law. as a physician who practiced in buy i would, i believe the topic is too important to ignore. all seniors, especially those in rural america, need to know how this law will impact their
1:36pm
ability to get the care they need. previously the institute of medicine found that there are fewer primary care physicians as well as other medical specialists per capita in rural areas compared with urban areas, so it's not just primary care, and it's not just specialists, it's both. so while people in rural america make up 20% of the nation's population, they're only served by about% of the nation's physicians. then the kaiser family foundation, they tell us that beneficiaries in rural areas account for at least 60% of the medicare populations in mississippi, montana, north dakota, south dakota, vermont, and wyoming. this is why i have such a passion for ensuring that all of our seniors, n no matter where they live, can receive their medicare benefits. unfortunately, all america knows that the president's health care law made significant cuts --
1:37pm
cuts -- to medicare. specifically, the congressional budget office told us that the law takes over $700 billion from the medicare program. this money will not be used to improve the health care received by seniors but, rather, to pay for a whole new government program for someone else. in fact, if the cuts in the health care law are implemented, the nonpartisan actuary at the centers for medicare and medicaid services found that medicare payments for in-patient hospital services would eventually be only 39% of private insurance rates. this situation facing physicians is not any better. the actuary at c.m.s. reported that in 250, medicaid-paid physicians are approximately 80% of private insurance rates. if the cuts are allowed to move forward, medicaid will only by
1:38pm
26% of the rate of private insurance much there i. there is no question that the ramification of these cuts will directly impact the ability of seniors to receive the health care they need. as professor tim knee joste noted in the new england journal of medicine, "if the gap between private and medicare rates continues to grow, health care providers, they say, may well abandon medicare." for the millions of seniors that rely on makers losing access to the program is simply not acceptable. when the president passed his health care larks he proudly stated that he was expanding health care coverage for millions of americans. what he failed to mention is that this expanded coverage is being bought at the expense of american seniors. washington democrats have long argued that the cuts to medicare will do two things at the same time. they say it will expand health
1:39pm
coverage for the uninsured and extend the life of the medicare trust fund. now in wyoming and all across the country people know that you cannot spend the same money twice. but apparently the president and supporters 6 his health care law right here in this body think that they can. their logic defies math and it defies common sense. as a former director of the congressional budget office, it is suggested that any suggestion that medicare will lost longer -- will last longer is an illusion, not fact. america's seniors can't afford the spending illusions contained in the health care law. congress must act and repeal the law before medicare is transformed from a vital program into an empty promise. with that, madam chairwoman, i
1:40pm
yield the floor. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
1:41pm
1:42pm
1:43pm
1:44pm
1:45pm
quorum call:
1:46pm
1:47pm
1:48pm
the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, i'd ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president, i said earlier this week when we came in on monday that every day i would come to the floor, and other senators i know are coming to the floor, to sort of let the american people know what mr. romney and mr. ryan are trying to hide from them. what they're trying to hide is what their blueprint is for america, where they want to take the country. yeah, you can listen to all their speeches and stuff on the
1:49pm
campaign trail, but show me your budget and i'll show what you your priorities are. a budget is a blueprint, and we have from mr. ryan, our colleague in the house, his budget. i think if i'm not mistaken, it's been passed twice in the house. almost every republican, i think, voted for it; the same as over here. so if mr. ryan and mr. romney were to be elected to the presidency and vice presidency, they would be able then to move this through, their budget through under a little known kind of procedure known reconciliation. kind of a fancy word, but all it means is that it would go through with 51 votes. now i think it's important for
1:50pm
the american people to know what's in that budget, what's in that blueprint for america. and that's why this week i have taken the time to talk about the impact of the budget on health care and on education. today i'd like to talk about the impact of this budget on where i live, rural america. in the midwest where the occupant of the chair lives, in the midwest. what is the impact of the ryan budget on those of us who live in small towns, rural communities, who live on farms, ranches in the west. what's the impact? well, i think, first of all, it's important to step back and sort of take a look at his budget blueprint overall. what it really does is it further decimates the middle class ph -- in america.
1:51pm
the very centerpiece of the ryan budget is a dramatic shift of even more wealth to those at the top, targeting huge new tax cuts for the richest 2%. those making over $1 million year -- and i've used this chart before and i will continue to use it. for those making over $1 a -- $1 million a year they would get $265,000 more in tax breaks. $265,000. that's added on to $129,000 that they already get from the bush tax cuts. so under the ryan plan, if you make over $1 million a year, you're going to get $394,000 in new tax cuts. you're entitled to that. that's an entitlement. if you make that much money, you're entitled to get that tax cut.
1:52pm
when you hear people talking about entitlements, remember it's not just the poor. it's the rich too. they get a lot of entitlements. so, they're going to have all these new tax cuts. the total is $4.5 trillion over ten years. well, where do they get that money? well, they don't want to say how they would pay for it, but we have to look at the budget. the republican budget, the ryan budget would partially offset the tax cuts by making deep, tra conean -- draconian cuts to programs that undergird the middle class essentially to quality of life in our country, everything from education, student grants and loans, law enforcement, clean air and clean water, food safety, medical research, highways, bridges and other infrastructure, agriculture and energy. the republican plan would end medicare.
1:53pm
the ryan budget ends medicare. they keep saying it will end it as we know it. as you know it, that's what it is. it replaces medicare with voucher care. voucher care. not medicare. voucher care. it would completely destroy medicare. they say, well, you know, you can take your voucher and you can keep medicare if you'd like or you can go out and get a private plan. if you're a really healthy elderly person you might be able to get a cheap plan out there someplace. so all the healthy leave medicare and leaves the sickest and poorest in medicare, the costs skyrocket and it becomes unsupportable. that's the way they destroy medicare. again, they talk a lot, mr. ryan and mr. romney, about reducing the soviet. reducing the deficit. balancing the budget. even under the most rosy
1:54pm
assumptions, the ryan budget does not balance the budget until the year 2040, 28 years from now. 28 years. so, mr. ryan, is a true accolyte of former vice president cheney who in a very unguarded moment said deficits don't matter. they obviously didn't. if you see how much deficits went up under the bush-cheney administration. obviously mr. ryan has also, he won't say it but his budgets show it. they don't think deficits matter either because they have deficits for the next 28 years. when i tell people this and i outline the budget for folks back home they say you must be kidding. nothing can be that extreme. the ryan plan is traoepblgs and un -- is extreme and unbalanced, and i'm not making it up. even former house speaker newt
1:55pm
gingrich called it right wing social engineering. mr. gingrich, you got that one right. but you don't have to listen to newt. let's listen to the economic advisor to really the icon of the modern-day republican party, president ronald reagan. look whaep said. -- look what he said. look at what mr. bartlett said. he said distributionally, the ryan plan is a monstrosity. the rich would receive huge tax cuts while the social and safety net would be shredded to pay for that. a monstrosity. this is the economic advisor to president reagan. president reagan wouldn't have a chance in today's republican party, not with the ryan budget. so again, the ryan budget is radical. radical. and shrinking the size of
1:56pm
government to what it was more than a half a century ago. more than a century -- half a century ago. well today i'd like to focus specifically on the devastating impact of the ryan budget, the romney ryan budget on american agriculture and on our quest for clean renewable energy and energy independence. the ryan budget would make deep reductions in our federal commitment to america's farmers and ranchers, to rural communities and to consumers, especially consumer safety. the ryan budget calms for reducing funding for agriculture conservation over 10 fiscal years by $16 billion below the funding levels that we have now in the present farm bill. that amounts to about a 24.5%
1:57pm
reduction in con sraeugs of soil and water. our nation cannot afford to back off from our commitment to agriculture alabama conservation, not at a time when farmers and ranchers need to keep increasing production to meet demands from a growing population. more and more demands being put on our land, changing k climate. that's why conservation funding is so critically important. farmers and ranchers have made tremendous progress on conservation. yet, about a quarter, one-fourth, a quarter of u.s. cropland is still deteriorating from excess soil erosion. concerning water quality, nitrates in the mississippi river and its tributaries were 10% higher in 2008 than they were 20 years ago. there have been no consistent
1:58pm
nitrate declines in the past 30 years. and here's just a couple of charts to illustrate sort of what i'm talking about. this is a nice pastoral view looking over some rolling cropland. and this is a gully. you can see they put up some plastic there to stop it, but this is, rain comes down, washes it off, down into the ditches. well, that's sort of the before, before conservation practices. let's take a look at the same, same picture, after we've used some federal conservation plans and farmers' own money look what we have now? a nice grass waterway that absorbs lots of that rain. that's what conservation does.
1:59pm
well, concerning water quality, here's another one. here's a picture of a gully washer being eroded. you see the land being eroded there. stream bank erosion. well, that was before that's what it looks like afterward. a nice stream with clean water, a lost bank protection, a lot of trees. in fact, in that last picture you could barely see above the tree line there. that's what conservation does. the ryan budget decimates that. it would cut 24.5%, almost 25% of all the funding for conservation in america at a time when we know what's happening to the mississippi river with all the nitrates going down the mississippi
2:00pm
river, with land erosion. as i said, at a time when our farmers are being asked to produce even more and more to meet a growing population. so again, and this doesn't just affect farmers. this affects all of us. you might say conservation, that looks nice. you save the soeurblgs you save the water -- you save the soil, you save the water. what has that got to do with me? i live in san francisco or california or someplace like that. it has to do with the quality of life in america. it has to do with whether or not we're going to preserve this bountiful land that we have for future generations and whether we're going to commit ourselves to having clean water and cleaning up our rivers and our streams and to prevent our soil from going down the rivers. now, that's conservation. another troubling feature of the ryan budget is that it would impose new limits on money
2:01pm
appropriated for rural housing rufrl water and waste -- rural water and wastewater systems as well as other functions such as food safety, agriculture research, education and extension. the ryan budget -- the ryan budget adopted by the house would overall cut the funding for, as we said, non-defense domestic appropriation by about 18.9%. compared to the current appropriations. less for next year. that's for 2014 and for years thereafter that. so let's consider real development programs at the department of agriculture. for fiscal year 2012, we appropriated $2.4 billion rural development. that money provides assistance to rural housing, rural cooperatives, other small businesses, rural water, rural
2:02pm
waste water systems. that figure for fiscal year 2012 that i gave you, $2.4 billion, was already 9% below 2011 and 2011 was 11% below fiscal year 2010. so what would the ryan budget do? slash another 19%, 18.9% from rural development funding. that would amount to a cut of roughly $454 million in 2014. half a billion dollars. half a billion dollars in cut to waste water systems, rural housing, or consider the food and agriculture research and education extension of the department of agriculture. the fiscal year 2012 appropriations for this was $2.3 billion. and again, that was a slight reduction from appropriations in
2:03pm
recent years. $2.3 billion in fiscal 2012. in fiscal 2010, it was $2.59 billion, so we have already taken some reductions. we already know that our current levels of investment in federal food and ag research are falling far behind, which needed to meet the challenges that i just spoke about, the challenges of producing food, more food to meet a growing world population, the need for exports but to do it in an environmentally benign way that saved soil and water for future generations. well, the ryan budget against lops off another 18.9%. that would be about $435 million in 2014. half a billion dollars from these vital programs. again, these don't just affect farmers. these affect all of us. take food safety, food safety.
2:04pm
people like to know that when you buy some food someplace, that you have a high expectation that's not going to make you sick. well, the fiscal year 2012 appropriations were -- was $2.5 billion for the f.d.a., the food and drug administration, and $1 billion for the food, safety and inspection service. that's the department of agriculture, that's fsis, food safety inspection service. that deals with federal meat and poultry inspection. the f.d.a. handles everything else. now, if the ryan budget were adopted, again an 18.9% cut to both f.d.a. and the food safety inspection service, listen to this, that would be a cut of about $472 million for the food and drug administration to inspect our food and our drugs
2:05pm
to make sure that they are safe. and a cut of about $189 million from the food safety and inspection service that inspects mete and poultry. so consumers would have much less assurance about the safety of their food. and need i remind people that the senate and the house just passed this year a proposal to reauthorize the food and drug administration could give more duties, more responsibilities, to do more inspections of food coming into this country from overseas. president obama signed that into law, supported by republicans and democrats, consumers, pharmaceutical companies, food companies, everybody supported it. great bill. now here's the ryan budget. they are going to take about half a billion dollars out of thatfer year. so we might have given them the sport in the authorization bill but then we're going to cripple it, cut them off at the knees,
2:06pm
going to cut them off. if we adopt the ryan budget, take about half a billion dollars a year from the f.d.a. let's take a look at what it would do about energy because this not only means a lot to iowa, it means a lot to our country in terms of moving ahead to develop renewable, safe domestically grown energy. the ryan budget claims that president obama has stifled domestic energy production by blocking or delaying production of oil both onshore and offshore and gas, but what he fails to acknowledge is that under president obama, we have already opened up vast expansions of public lands for oil and gas exploration, production of both has increased by 13% for domestic oil, 12% for natural gas since 2008. but the most preejious thing
2:07pm
about the ryan budget is it completely ignores and again hinders our development of renewable energy, wind power, wind power in america has now provided over 35% of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the u.s. over the last five years. in the last five years, wind energy accounts for 35% of all of that. the wind power industry has doubled its electricity contribution four times just since 2000. so here has been the growth of wind power capacity in the united states since 2000. it's doubled it four times, doubled it four times and is continuing to grow. and again, the industry, the wind power industry now accounts for 75,000 american jobs. 75,000 american jobs.
2:08pm
heavily concentrated in california, colorado, texas, iowa, illinois, michigan, ohio, pennsylvania. well, mr. romney has said he wants to do away with the production tax credit, wipe all that out. well, i wonder how the people in california and texas and colorado and iowa and illinois and michigan and ohio and pennsylvania might feel about that. not to mention the other states where they are just now beginning to develop their wind energy potential. so the ryan budget does away with the production tax credit and mr. romney has given his stamp of approval to that. now, like wise are liquid fuels. americans clearly want to increase production and use of domestic renewable fuels. we have responded in the past with tax credits and renewable fuel use requirements.
2:09pm
the renewable fuels mandate. small business entrepreneurs have built ethanol and biodiesel refineries all across the country. they now supply about 10% of the fuel used in our gasoline powered autos and trucks. that's 10% that no longer comes from outside our borders. and here is the expansion area of all of the biorefineries in the united states, just in the last few years. look how they have grown up. a lot of jobs there. a lot of jobs. a lot of liquid fuel. in fact, if you look at a chart of the expansion of liquid fuels and look at the decrease in imports from oil, they just about match. you just take a look going back to 2000, this is the increase in ethanol production. this is the decrease in oil imports. boy, they just about match. as the ethanol production has gone up, oil imports have gone
2:10pm
down. well, the ryan budget basically says we should roll back all this federal intervention, just roll it back. but they say it's okay for the oil companies to go offshore and goodwill offshore, drill in very fragile areas of our country. i wouldn't be surprised if they want to open up yellowstone park to oil and gas exploration very soon. i just want to share the iowa experience, if i might, about renewable energy because i think it speaks to the potential that we have nationwide. up until a decade ago, ten years ago, my state of iowa was nearly 100% dependent on energy inputs. all of our gasoline and diesel came from out of state. most of our electricity came from out of state coal. by contrast today, iowa
2:11pm
generates about 20% of its electricity from in-state wind power facilities. we now have about 7,000 jobs in the wind power industry. we build the turbines. we build the blades. we build the towers, everything there. we are teaching a whole new generation of young americans at our community colleges how to fix, repair, replace and maintain our wind generators. so instead of paying others for imported coal or for coal-based electricity from other states, iowans are using their money to build and install and operate their own wind turbines. generating electricity from our own in-state renewable resources of when. liquid fuels is the same. it's remarkable. as i said, remember iowa imported all of its oil and gas ten years ago, gasoline. iowa now has 54 biorefineries,
2:12pm
produce about 4 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel a year. that is 50% more than the total amount of liquid fuels that we consume in a year. so iowa in ten years has gone from a total importer of liquid fuels to a net exporter. we make more than 50% more than we actually use, so we get an export, other states. again, good-paying jobs, it's a renewable resource, higher incomes for farmers, helps iowa economy better than the economies of the middle east oil states. so, mr. president, america can follow in iowa's footsteps but only if we continue the energy policies that have enabled these achievements. we need to extend the production tax credit to extend wind power and other renewable electric systems across the country like
2:13pm
solar electric. the ryan budget does not account for that. they drop them. the ryan budget drops all of these investments, in renewable biofuels also. so again, mr. president, as i said each day, we have looked at the ryan budget and how it affects health, how it affects education. senator boxer from california and others have come out and talked about how it affects our transportation infrastructure in america. but i also wanted to point out what it does to our renewable energy sector and what it does to agriculture, especially conservation, and how it would decimate our efforts to ensure clean water and to stop soil erosion in all of our states, in all of our states. so, mr. president, before i close, i -- i just want to provide a broader context so that we understand the consequences of the romney-ryan budget. going back to the 1930's, the
2:14pm
american people have supported and strengthened kind of a unique american social contract. that social contract says that we'll prepare our young and we'll care for our elderly. that contract says if you work hard and play by the rules, you will be able to rise to the middle class or even beyond. that social contract says that a cardinal role of government is to provide a ladder or ramp of opportunity so that every american can realistically, realistically aspire to the american dream. well, in one document, the romney-ryan budget would rip up that social contract, shred it, don't take my word. let's go back to what steve bartlett says. i will see mr. bartlett's quote that i had at the beginning. don't take my word for it. this is ronald reagan's economic
2:15pm
advisor. he says the ryan plan is a monstrosity. the rich would receive huge tax cuts while the others would be shredded to take care of them. how far do you think they would get today with that kind of a statement? again, the ryan budget would rip up that source of a contract, replace it with a sort of survival of the fittest, winner take all. it's sort of a tough luck, you're on your own. if you're wealthy, life in the right circumstances, you're okay. or if you win the lottery, god bless you, you're okay if you win the lottery. but otherwise tough luck, you're on your own. i agree with what president clinton said last week when he said there are two competing philosophies here. one is the romney-ryan budget
2:16pm
philosophy of you're on your own. the other philosophy is what i think we have been proposing, and that is that we're all better off when it's a -- we're all in it together philosophy. and, again, the ryan budget, the romney-ryan budget is a blueprint for what where they want to take america. this is not just some phony little thing thrown out here. this is their budget. tells you where they want to go. it's a blueprint for a building. it's a blueprint for what they want america to become. well, i don't think that's the kind of america that my neighbors and i would find acceptable and certainly not one where they find for their kids and is not acceptable, again, mr. ryan said that he had said that he had developed his views on his budget, they were informed by catholic social teaching.
2:17pm
well, i don't know, i went to catholic schools most of my life. that's not what i was taught. i wasn't taught that, you know, you're on your own. the government has no responsibility whatsoever to ensure that you have decent health, safety, education, that you have a decent retirement so you don't get put in the poor house. i was taught we were all in this together and i see the bishops say the same thing. the bishops say ryan fails the moral test. fails the moral test. they reiterated their demand that the federal budget protect the poor and said the g.o.p. measure fails to meet this moral criteria. so, again, mr. president, i've taken this floor every day, i intend to take it every day from now until whenever we adjourn to keep pointing out along with
2:18pm
other senators what's in this romney-ryan budget. it's really scary. a lot of times, you know, when we go out campaigning, we always tell people, you know, this is the most important election ever. how many times have you heard that one? this is the most important election we've ever -- this is the most important. hear both sides saying that. i've been through a lot of elections. i've said that a lot of times. i won't say that. i'm not going to tell anyone this is the most important election ever. but i will say this, this is the scariest election that i've seen in my lifetime. the scariest. oh, sure we've had our differences before, republicans and democrats, and that's okay. that's fine. that's the political give and take. and even under pretty good who
2:19pm
was -- president reagan who was more conservative than any president we'd had probably since herbert hoover or before, you know, sure they moved the country in a more conservative direction but it wasn't like this. and it wasn't anything close to what this ryan budget is doing. and even presidents who have run in the past maybe with the exception of barry goldwater, but i don't know much about his budget. i'll dare say it wasn't this bad, wasn't anywhere close to this. this is scary. this is turning america back to where we were before roosevelt. i don't mean franklin roosevelt, i mean theodore roosevelt. that's how far back when they would turn this country. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that michael maderos and alexis florsak be granted floor privileges for the rest of today's proceedings.
2:20pm
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
2:21pm
2:22pm
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. i would ask suspension of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection.
2:23pm
ms. stabenow: thank you very much. i first want to thank senator harkin as chair of the health, education, labor, and pensions committee and past chair of the agriculture committee for his words of concern regarding the house budget as it relates to agriculture. i share those concerns and want to thank you for speaking up on that. it's just one more reason to surface the farm bill and we need to get a farm bill done right now. let me just say to all of my colleagues and particularly in the house because we have done our job in the senate, we're ready to complete the task of getting a farm bill, but we now only have 17 days, 17 days until the current farm bill expires on september 30. 17 days. we know as a practical matter because the house says they're leaving next friday, it's actually shorter, but we have 17 days before the end of the
2:24pm
month, before the current policy expires and we begin to see a phase-in of policies that end up going back to 1949 by the first of the year, on subsidies and planting restrictions and a whole range of things that cost a lot of money and make no sense. so we're asking that the house -- i'm asking that the house come together as we did in the senate when we passed our bipartisan farm bill on june 21 and pass a farm bill in the house. we passed the agriculture reform, food, and jobs act by a bipartisan vote of 64-35. i believe that the votes are there in the house of representatives if there's a willingness to have a bipartisan vote on this. i believe together democrats and republicans, there are enough votes to pass it, and the house has time to act. they're completing the
2:25pm
continuing resolution today and it's my understanding there is nothing else of substance on the agenda for next week and even if there was, one day, one day is all we're asking. one day to bring up and do the work for rural america, for agriculture, ranchers across the country, to create a five-year farm bill policy that includes disaster assistance that will work for all parts of agriculture. we're asking for one day. one day. farmers across the country have been hit hard by disasters, as we know, very, very hard. it's been devastating for many of our ranchers and fearnlings. between -- farmers. between late frosts and the severe droughts this year, we need to get a farm bill done. why is that? because the farm bill is also a disaster bill. i can speak from the standpoint of michigan where the warmth in
2:26pm
march and then the late deep freeze eliminated almost all of our tart cherries. we're number one in the country in tart cherries. we don't have any, mr. president. sweet cherry, apples, peaches, grapes and that means every single county in michigan is under a disaster declaration right now. we dleas dreas that in the farm bill that we passed. by the way, disaster assistance is in the farm bill the senate passed, fully paid for with savings within the farm bill. we reinstate the livestock disaster program, and we make it permanent. we make it permanent. we support specialty crop growers who need crop insurance and don't have it like our cherry growers. cherry growers can't purchase crop insurance. there is no crop insurance. in addition to helping them in the short run, we need to make sure we're ready for the future
2:27pm
and we do that in this bill. we put in place a new dairy program to make sure we're not seeing farmers go bankrupt and our presiding officer today certainly from vermont understands and has led efforts. i remember 2009-2010 with what was happening, what we had to do. we know the current policy is a disaster waiting to happen for dairy. so kicking the can down the road, doing some kind of long-term extension, not taking any action on the farm bill is a disaster for dairy. which, by the way, is the number one single commodity in my state as well. so we need to get the farm bill done. we make sure that those who have lost crops this year because of the early warm spring and late frost as well as our livestock operators and others get help not just for the future but this year, 2012. that's in the senate passed farm bill. it's also in the house
2:28pm
committee-passed farm bill which is what the speaker and the republican leadership should be taking up on the floor of the house. so we also strengthen conservation, which is so critical because unlike the dust bowl of the 1930's where soil was swirling around and all that was happening at that time, despite the horrible droughts, soil is on the ground. why? because of conservation efforts and policies that have made a difference. we need to continue and strengthen that as we do in our farm bill for the future. it's going to be critical that we move forward on conservation. so the house taking up a farm bill addresses the disaster assistance that needs to be addressed for our farmers and ranchers in a responsible way, it's paid for within the savings of the farm bill, and we make
2:29pm
sure we don't have other disasters happening by not moving forward with improvements in policy for commodities like dairy. i'm proud of what we did in the senate. it was bipartisan. we tried very hard, i worked very, very hard to create an opportunity where there was enough time in the summer for the house to be able to create action. we moved as we all know, quickly, both in committee, senator roberts and i, and all of our colleagues, and we with the leadership support on the floor moved quickly in june to pass a bill so that there would be all of july and the beginning of august until the break that the house could act so that we could then go to conference committee in august and come back right now and be passing a final farm bill which is what should have happened. so now we're in plan b. which is at least, at least the
2:30pm
house of representatives ought to be doing their job in passing the farm bill so we can work on this in october and come back in november before the full congress. now, i commend the leadership of the agriculture committee in the house and have great confidence that working together with them we can come together on our differences and put together a responsible, effective deficit reduction farm bill in the final analysis. but we can't get there until the house gives us some kind of a bill to work with. so i'm asking the speaker, i'm asking the republican leadership, just take one day, one day for rural america. one day for farmers and ranchers across this country. so that we can address disaster assistance and long-term economic policy for rural america. you know, the house
2:31pm
leadership, the republican leadership heard yesterday from hundreds of farmers, from all over the country, that we need a farm bill now. we had a rally, there were over 80 different groups that put that together to make it very clear. they don't want stopgap measures, they don't want to kick the can down the road, no one-year extension, just get it done. just get it done right now. many of our farmers are in the middle of harvest, it's the earliest corn harvest in 25 years because of the drought. they took time from their work to come here at their own expense, their own time to give a very clear message to the house republican leadership. it is time to get this done. frankly, it's past time to get it done. we've heard that the house wants to do a one-year extension of current policy, but we're not going to support that. do we really want to continue
2:32pm
for another year the subsidies like direct payments that we eliminated in the senate farm bill? the subsidies that go to people regardless of whether they're even growing the crops that they're getting the subsidies for. four different subsidies that we eliminated. and instead listened to farmers across this country to strengthen crop insurance. that's what we heard from michigan to kansas, t california, to all across this country. that we need to strengthen crop insurance and that's what we've done. do we really want to be in a situation where one more time there's not action on deficit reduction? the one piece that we have passed in a bipartisan way that reduces the deficit of this country is our farm bill amazingly. $23 billion in reduced spending in deficit reduction goes away with an extension.
2:33pm
it won't happen if we kick the can down the road. so we need to get this done. i understand there are some in the house that don't believe we ought to invest in any kind of agricultural policy. i know that their nose -- there are those who think we shouldn't invest in nutrition or conservation of land and water or agricultural policy or energy, jobs, or a whole range of things, rural development, supporting our small, rural towns, and i understand that they don't want to do a farm bill. i also know that there are some folks that don't like the reforms we have. they want to continue those payments. i understand that. but i believe that the majority of people in the house just like the majority of the people in the senate will come together if given the opportunity and vote for reform, for deficit reduction. for a strengthened crop
2:34pm
insurance program. other risk management tools for our farmers. a disaster assistance program that is permanent for livestock producers. help for our fruit growers. strong nutrition policy that includes focusing on waste, fraud, and abuse. rural development, a streamlined, more effective conservation policy that creates flexibility and tools for our farmers. as well as those that want to hunt and fish and protect our open spaces. i believe a majority of the house wants to get that done. and i think it's very, very important that with 17 days left that we remember what this is about, mr. president. there are 16 million people in this country that work because of agriculture. 16 million people. we talk a lot about jobs and job policies here.
2:35pm
i don't know any that we have debated on this floor that impacted 16 million people and their families. now, we came together to get this done because we understood that. right now despite the best efforts of the committee on agriculture in the house on a bipartisan basis to report a bill, the house leadership, the republican leadership will not take one day, one day to focus on 16 million jobs, economic development, quality of life in rural america, those who have been hit so hard by this economy, and the jobs of the future that we have in this farm bill. so time is running out. time is running out. we need to get this done. we understand that.
2:36pm
we know that farmers know that when there's work to be done you can't kick the can down the road. when it's ready for the harvest, you can't say gee, i'm tired, i'll do it next week. when the crop needs to be harvested, you get up and you go do it. you go do what needs to be done. and we have folks that came here yesterday that left the fields, that have basically said even though i've got loot of work to do at -- a lot of work to do at home, they came here to tell the united states house of representatives to tell the republican leadership it's time to get the job done. mr. president, i'd like to put into the record a letter that was sent from 13 different leadership organizations on agriculture in this country, and i'll explain what it is -- what is in it but i would ask
2:37pm
unanimous consent to put it in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. stabenow: this was a letter sent to majority leader reed and republican leader mcconnell that says on behalf of the american farm bureau, american soybeans, national association of wheat growers, barley growers, corn growers, national farmers union, another milk producers, sunflower association, united fresh produce association, u.s. dry pea and lentil council and western growers all saying don't do something short term. do the farm bill. don't do some short-term effort that's only focused on disaster, don't do an effort that does not complete the job. they're saying in this letter we strongly urge you to refrain
2:38pm
from just doing the house-passed disaster measure because we believe it will result in further delays in completing a five-year farm bill. these provisions retroactively are in the senate-passed bill and the bill reported from the house agriculture committee. they're paid for within the context of the farm bill, and they know as we know that in the final bill we present that they will be included, we certainly are going to include comprehensive disaster assistance, but they are asking us to do it in the context of a five-year farm bill. that's what everyone is saying. in farm country, in rural america, that it's not enough just to do a little bit here and there. and on top of it, it's not necessary. it's not necessary.
2:39pm
we have a comprehensive disaster assistance bill within a comprehensive farm bill. so does the house committee. we need one day. there's 17 days left, 17 days left, and we are asking the house republican leadership to invest one day in american agriculture. and i hope they will do it. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. a senator: if the chairman of the ag committee would stay down just a little bit. i came to talk about the veteran jab corps act. but agriculturefood very fortunate this country. i want to commend you as chairman of the ag committee for putting out an ag bill that i think really meets the needs of this country and definitely the ag comiewfnlt first of all, i've just got to ask, the ag bill
2:40pm
that was sent out of the senate here provides a -- provides a good safety net for those in production agriculture. i know you took that into account, whether you're a dairyman or corn producer, reproducer, whatever, it's there. you come from the state of michigan. that's a little different than montana. but we both know the midwest has been under incredible drought. there have been fires all over this country. i talked to the ranking member on the train yesterday, was talking about fires in kansas. and we've had fires in montana. is there a -- is there disaster assistance in this bill if the house were to take it up and get it passed, would we not have to worry about that, would it be taken care of in the farm bill? a senator: i want to thank my friend from montana. and i've called him more than one time in montana and he says, i'm in the field, i'm getting off the tractor. but you speak with authority. the answer is yes, comprehensive disaster assistance paid for in the saving of our farm bill. mr. tester: and so if you
2:41pm
combine that with the safety net, if -- if we don't do a farm bill like the house wants to do and just have an extension, what will happen to that $23 billion in taxpayer savings? ms. stabenow: it goes away. there is no $23 billion in taxpayer savings if -- if we don't pass a farm bill. mr. tester: and would that -- if it was extended, would it, in fact, cost the taxpayers, that $23 billion would not only go away but wouldn't the taxpayers have to pay for that, any kind of disaster extension? ms. stabenow: no question. we would be paying for disaster assistance. we also, by the way, if the reforms go ahead -- and i know that the senator from montana supports the rather forms in the bill -- we would see those subsidies continue, dreght payments and so on, and we would be rolling back to a whole era of planting restrictions and huge subsidies back from the 1940's and 1950's. mr. tester: and one more point. if this farm bill goes away in
2:42pm
17 days and the farmers out there that need help from the bank to get an operating loan, to continue on the next year, what will happen to those folks? ms. stabenow: well, the senator raise as a very important question because economic certainty means that the farmers and ranchers are going to be able to know what's happening next year and go to the bank and be able to get those operating loans, plan for next year, what they're going to plant, and all that certainty will be gone. everybody talks about how we need certainty for the future in the economy and i couldn't agree more. this will do more to disrupt rural america and our ability to have a stable food supply and agriculture than anything else. mr. tester: well, once again, i want to thank the chairman of the senate ag committee for doing such a great job, passing a responsible bill, getting it through the committee and out of the senate. the only thing i would like to say, to my knowledge, the house works on majority rule. to it would even take a day.
2:43pm
if they want to roll up their sleeves and get after it, they could get the senate farm bill passed over there. remember, it saves $23 billion. it provides a safety net for agriculture. has a great disaster component to it. and -- and provides the kind of certainty for people who, when they go to the bank -- which is most farmers -- and get that operating loan, that they've got a backstop there that bankers can depend upon to be able to offer that loan up. so i just want to thank you for your great work. mrs. stabenow: thank you. mr. tester: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that nick artuso, an intern in senator blumenthal's office, be granted floor privileges for the duration of the afternoon session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. tester: mr. president, i rise today to call on the senate to pass the veterans job corps act. veterans and their families made great sacrifices so we could live freely in the greatest nation of the world. too many of our veterans return home and they struggle to find good jobs. our veterans deserve better. they earn our everlasting
2:44pm
suspect with their service and our best efforts to help them get good jobs when their service ends. jobs that will improve the communities that they live in. jobs that will help us grow our economy. mr. president, this bill takes good ideas from both sides of the aisle and does just that. it increases training and hiring opportunities for veterans, using proven job-training initiatives. and it will give local governments the resources to hire qualified veterans as police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. at a time when local budgets around the country are tight, putting qualified veterans to work protecting our communities is smart policy. the veterans job corps act also helps rural america by training and hiring veterans to help restore and protect america's forests, parks, refuges and veterans' cemeteries. this is an important step forward. but investing in rural america must also mean investing in the veterans who are from rural america. that's why i added the provision
2:45pm
to the bill that would bring more veterans jobs counselors to rural states across this country, including montana. job counselors work closely with veterans and local employers to connect former service members with good jobs close to home. these counselors develop extensive knowledge of local job and training opportunities and maintain a list of resources that prepare veterans to enter the work force. but right now, the labor department allocates job counselors based solely on population, without taking into account the distances that folks have to travel in rural america. it on which means vet frans my state of montana -- veterans in my state of montana travel hundreds of miles for the employment assistance that they've earned. and it leaves the six job counselors that we have to cover tens of thousands of veterans over an area the size of the entire northeast corridor. my provision will fix this imbalance.
2:46pm
it will give large, rural states like montana enough job counselors to serve all parts of the state and help to enshoe eno ensure that they are developing relationships with employers that will put more veterans back to work. mr. president, the veterans job corps act is fully paid for and it shouldn't be controversial at a time when our veterans continue to struggle. or at a time when more and more veterans continue to return from the battlefields in afghanistan. mr. president, our veterans fought hard for this country, and their families have sacrificed much. we owe it to them to put aside political differences and to pass this bill. it is a responsible measure that will make our communities safer, preserve our most treasured places and will move this country forward. our veterans deserve nothing less. mr. president, i especially want to thank senator bill nelson for his leadership on this important bill. it deserves the support of the senate, and with that, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
2:47pm
quorum call:
2:48pm
2:49pm
2:50pm
2:51pm
2:52pm
2:53pm
2:54pm
2:55pm
2:56pm
2:57pm
mr. blumenthal: mr. president?
2:58pm
the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i ask that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you. like many of my colleagues i am very proud to support the veterans job corps act of 20120. very simply, this measure keeps faith with our veterans, offers them employment opportunities commensurate not only with what they have given to the country, what they have served and sacrificed to accomplish and give back, but also with their skills and talents and gifts that have been enhanced and enlarged by their military service. this measure addresses the chronic and persistent problem of unemployment among our young veterans. it is a searing indictment of our nation that unemployment among these young veterans is many percentage points higher than the average population. what's happening in this country is that a new generation is
2:59pm
returning home, a new generation of veterans ready to work, wanting to serve in civilian life, just as they have in the military. and with the ending of the wash- and with the ending of the war in iraq and the winding down of our presence in afghanistan, 200,000 of our service members are transitioning to the civilian workforce every year. in july of 2011, there were 232,000 post-9/11 era veterans unemployed. that is 12.4% as an unemployment rate. the august jobs report of this year showed that the most recent unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is 10.9%. and for connecticut, that's just
3:00pm
under 10%. there are many more statistics that show that unemployment rates for these young veterans, particularly for our enlisted men and women coming back from iraq and afghanistan, are hiring -- some would estimate double the average pop reagan -- popule across the country. and they are a commitment of our obligation unfulfilled so far by the greatest nation in the history of the world. and too often in our history we have failed to keep faith and we have left veterans behind. i have advocated measures in health care and counseling, training, employment opportunities, but i want to
3:01pm
focus on one measure in particular where all of us join forces and reached a consensus as recently as last november. the veterans job corps act of 2012 is a new measure that would provide opportunities in conservation and in other kinds of public service, fire fighting and police. but there's an existing measure whose very life is threatened because it will expire in 2012. this measure is the vow to hire heroes act, specifically the tax credits under those measures for hiring unemployed or disabled veterans. and those tax credits will expire at the end of this year unless they are renewed. and that's the reason that i am introducing legislation along
3:02pm
with cosponsors, senators webb, cantwell, tom udall, heller, and mikulski, that extends the vow to hire heroes tax credit through the end of 2016. this measure is important to be extended because it offers these veterans new opportunities, promotes and incentivizes employers to put our veterans to work. hiring a veteran is not only the right thing to do to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country, it also makes good business sense. veterans are among our most highly skilled, capable, disciplined, reliable and dedicated workers, and businesses ought to relish their services. countless businesses big and small have already found that veterans are a tremendous asset
3:03pm
to their workforce, and this bill is really important to build on the measures that we have in place. very simply, it makes these veterans even more attractive. last month i visited the arna machine company in bristol, connecticut, and i talked with a young veteran whose name is nick saucer, a former army sniper who served in afghanistan and now works there as a machinist. being a former army sniper, nick knows about precision and care, taking your time to be on target. he's now training to use computer-assisted manufacturing software with the same care and precision and discipline that he
3:04pm
developed in his army training as a sniper. while i was at arna, i talked to steven channahan, the president of the company who is very proud and rightly proud of having 42 employees and growing in this tough economy. he is hiring, and he said to me that these tax credits have helped him fill positions with young, qualified personnel who are veterans. i've also worked with congressman chris murphy to survey manufacturers about veteran hiring. this legislation is the result of those conversations and discussions, the data and the feedback that we've received as well as consultation with my friend, bud bukka, who has helped me time and again to address the challenges facing veterans. these tax credits will expire.
3:05pm
they will end unless we renew them, and we owe it to our veterans, to our business community, to manufacturers and small businesses that want to do the right thing, to make sure that they have this incentive. i've heard from employers and veterans firsthand that they, many of them were not aware of this tax credit. and so i have proposed as part of this legislation increased measures to create awareness and spread the word about these tax incentives so that big companies with their tax attorneys, but also smaller companies that may not have the consultants and the accountants to do this kind of work now of it and take advantage of it th-fplt measure also simplifies the process for veterans and small businesses to take advantage of the tax incentives currently to be a
3:06pm
qualified veterans -- in quotes "qualified veterans" individuals must gain approval through a local employment agency which can be really unnecessarily time-consuming and burdensome to them and to the potential employer. this bill offered today would modify the work opportunity tax credit process to allow individuals to be considered qualified veterans for tax purposes if they simply provide a dd-214, have an honorable discharge and a valid proof of unemployment. this bill would also extend the amount of time employers have to take advantage of tax credits for hiring unemployed or disabled veterans, enhancing its use to countless small businesses as well as veterans. it would allow employers to take advantage of these tax credits for an additional four years,
3:07pm
providing returning service men and women with a clear path to employment when they need it -- and they will need it over these four years. i'm very, very honored this bill has been endorsed by the veterans of foreign wars and the american legion, who have been champions of employment opportunities for veterans. and i urge my colleagues to continue their support for our veterans by supporting this legislation which will create more good jobs. we owe our veterans more good jobs. and it will grow our economy. let me just say finally, nearly three quarters of a million veterans, to be more precise, 742,000 men and women are eligible for these employer hiring tax credits. so let's do the right thing. let's extend these tax credits. we adopted them overwhelmingly last november in the vow to hire
3:08pm
heroes act. we have it within our power, and it is our obligation to meet this challenge and for our veterans we should do no less. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:09pm
the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. a senator: last evening -- the presiding officer: the senator should know we're in a quorum call. mr. paul: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. paul: last evening i had a spirited exchange with the majority leader, and the exchange is over whether we should send billions of dollars -- billions of dollars we technically don't even have -- to foreign countries that disrespect us, foreign countries who have tortured people who are friends of america. in pakistan, dr. shakil afridi helped us to get bin laden. he's been tortured, kept in prison and now been given a life
3:10pm
sentence. i've asked one simple thing: i would like to have 15 minutes, have a discussion and have a vote on whether or not we should continue to send money to pakistan. i've said we should send not one penny to pakistan until this doctor is released. we offered at one time a $50 million reward for helping getting bin laden. young men and women sacrificed their limbs to go to afghanistan. many sacrificed their lives to go to pakistan to get bin laden. and this man who helped get bin laden, we're now letting him rot in a prison. we're now letting this man spend the rest of his life in prison. and do you know what this administration did? about a month ago they gave pakistan $1 billion more. do you know how pakistan responded? the head of the security agency for pakistan said very snidely and with a great deal of
3:11pm
arrogance, "come back and talk to us in ten years about dr. dr. afridi." they're going to keep him in prison for the rest of his life if he's not killed. his life has been threatened. other prisoners and the public have threatened his family's life. is this how we treat a friend of america? i've asked for 15 minutes to have a vote. why don't they want to have a vote? because they know the american people are with me. if you ask questions, should we send money to countries that don't like us and disrespect us? 80% to 90% of the american people are with me on this. they're afraid to vote personally. i've been giving them a clans to debate this for six weeks. we spent the whole week not having a debate because they don't want to have a vote because they know if they vote their position, which is to send your money to pakistan and to egypt and to libya, that the
3:12pm
american people won't like it. so they're not willing to stand up in the broad daylight to vote to continue this aid. they just don't want to have the vote. last evening the majority leader said that his concern is over the veterans benefits bill. i also am concerned, and so i've reconsidered my amendment. my amendment before would just return the money to the treasury and to counteract the debt. we would take the, somewhere between $3 billion and $4 billion and send it back to the treasury. but if what's holding this up is that the majority leader thinks that this is not in any way connected to veterans benefits, why don't we take hast $4 billion -- half of the $4 billion that we wouldn't send to pakistan, let's take half of that and put it into veterans benefits. i'm willing to triple the size of the veterans benefits bill if
3:13pm
we'll take the money from an area where we shouldn't be spending it. some will stand up and they will tkpwaourbgs gosh, we have -- and they will argue, gosh, we have to be engaged with pakistan because they have nuclear weapons. i'm not saying disengage. i'm saying you don't have to bribe people to be your friend. we don't have the money anyway. we have to borrow the money from china to send it to pakistan. i'm not saying don't have relations with pakistan. many in pakistan have been sympathetic to our country. many in pakistan have helped our country. but many in pakistan with a wink and a nod look at us, take our money and laugh at us. they cash our check and they laugh at us. the american people are tired of this. our treasury is bare. there are a multitude of reasons why we should not continue to send good money after bad. compound that with the tragedy that has occurred over the last
3:14pm
couple of days, the tragedy of our ambassador being assassinated in libya and three of his fellow workers killed. the tragedy of our embassy being attacked in egypt. we give egypt $3 billion a year and you know what? egypt can't protect or won't protect our embassy. there was a phone call to the embassy from someone from egypt saying the mob's coming. well, a phone call is not enough. do you think they could have sent soldiers and tanks to protect our embassy? they extend us a phone call saying the mob's coming. well, egypt needs to act like our ally if they want to continue to cash our checks. my position is not one penny more for libya or egypt or pakistan until they act like our allies. some say we've got to keep sending it. fine. let's send it when they act like our allies.
3:15pm
let's send it when they start behaving like civilized nations and come to their senses. so i have an amendment, and i am going to ask unanimous consent to bring this amendment forward. i may be surprised, but i think the other side is going to object. what i would asking for is 15 minutes of the senate's time to vote on ending this aid and taking half of the $4 billion that we're squandering overseas, giving it to people who don't like us, take half of that aid and put it towards the deficit and take half of that aid and put it into veterans benefits. so if we're really talking about veterans benefits here, if we're really serious about providing money for the veterans, let's take it from an area which is insulting to veterans. let's take it from a country that insults every veteran in this country, pakistan, who our
3:16pm
men and women gave their lives to fight a war in afghanistan and in neighboring pakistan to get the chief architect of 9/11 -- bin laden. let's memorialize those people who sacrificed their lives and the veterans by saying we're not going to give money to a country that disrespects and disavows everything we've done over the last ten years to combat terrorism. so i ask u -- so i ask unanimous consent that we resume consideration of s. 3457, set aside the pending amendments and call up my amendment number 2838. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. kerry: madam president, reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: madam president, let me first mention that sadly this afternoon, we learned that one of the other four people who was
3:17pm
killed in libya is a massachusetts native, glenn doeherty, former navy seal and a state department security official who was guarding the ambassador, taking care of the ambassador, caring for wounded and taking care of people there. and i believe, as senator mccain yesterday said on the floor, senator lindsey graham yesterday said on the floor, and senator lieberman said, cutting the aid to any of these countries right now in this fashion is not the way to honor the memory of an ambassador, chris stevens, who went there in great danger to help that country be free and have an opportunity to have democracy. glenn doeherty did the same
3:18pm
thing, put his life on the line in order to help the libyans. and the senator from kentucky might be really surprised to know that the libyan people by vast numbers are grateful to the united states and are mourning the death of ambassador stevens. i heard the senator from kentucky several times saying and what, frankly, is, you know, a kind of arrogant statement i guess is the only way i can say it. when you sit there and say, saturday behaving like a civilized nation. well, by whose standard when? the libyan government didn't do this. the egyptian government didn't do this. what's happening there. the yemen government sent its people to protect our people and we helped negotiate the transfer of authority to this new
3:19pm
government yemen. now, are they having difficulties? yeah go, back and look at the united states of america in the 1700's. we had some difficulties. you know, we have to write slavery out of the constitution. and a bunch of other things. and it takes time. the arrogance of suggesting that we're going to judge whether or not they're civilized today or tomorrow because a mob or a bunch of militants take matters into their own hands would -- would just be the most, you know, sort of self-defeating, narrow effort you could possibly conceive of. pakistan -- i don't know. i'd ask the senator, has he ever been to pac pakistan? has the senator ever been to egypt? i ask the senator, has the senator ever been to egypt? the senator doesn't want to answer. i presume that means he hasn't been. he ought to go to egypt and see what those people are struggling
3:20pm
to do. that was a rev lure in tehere square. and it wasn't an islamic revolution, it was a generational revolution. a bunch of young people with smartphones sweeting each other and googling and trying to touch the world and have a future. he wants to cut off american assistance to these nascent democratic efforts? whatever happened to the great commitment of the conservative movement in america to freedom and democracy and to help it develop? just turn your back on it, pull the aid out. what the heck? because we don't think they're civilized. i -- i find this kind of stunning, you know, when you say foreign countries that aren't friendly. the countries didn't do these things. militant extremists, radical terrorists within those countries that those people are struggling to beat back. right now in pakistan, there are
3:21pm
troops in the western part of pakistan losing their lives fighting extremists. cut off the aid and you send a message of -- of, well, you know, you don't do exactly what we say, exactly when we say, exactly the way we want, well, we're not going to give you the pittance that we give them. we give less than 1% of the entire budget of the united states of america, less than 1% goes into all of our foreign operations. all of our embassies, our security, our aid. 1%. and the impact is extraordinary, madam president. you know, in -- in pakistan today, you want to just cut it off? okay. all right. we have 130,000 troops in afghanistan. and they are largely supplied,
3:22pm
now somewhat from the north, from the stands, from the northern routes that's been created, but they're also supplied from karachi all the way through over the keiger pass and down to afghanistan. we've just gone through a long process of working through the pakistanis to be able to renew that and do that. as everybody knows, we have decimated al qaeda in the western part of their country. their country. civilians are being killed in their country in our effort to protect our country. they have endured that. their political system has endured that. and we're just going to turn around and say, you know, we're going to pull the aid out. and we only want to do it with 15 minutes on the floor of the united states senate. here's a major policy consideration and we just want 15 minutes because it's really that simple. madam president, i've got to tell you, i -- you know, this is
3:23pm
four countries all which are critical to the future of the region in the middle east. egypt. egypt is an essential partner with respect to the potential of peace in the middle east. one-quarter of the arab world. i have been to egypt many times. i have sat with the new president, president morissey and i have met with others engaged in this transformation. they are trying to be a legitimate democracy. yes, and people won the election that we're not exactly on the same page with completely, but that's what happens in democracies. that's what happens when people vote. are we not going to respect the democracy? so i -- i -- i just say to my friend from kentucky, you know, there are just critical issues at stake here. we're not buying it. what we're doing is trying to help them to be able to make
3:24pm
this transformation to a full-throated, full-blooded democracy that can respect its court system, respect its elected institutions. and it doesn't come easily. their police were decimated in the course of the revolution and there was corruption, and they're working to change that. there's a whole unbelievable transformation taking place. it's not going to be pretty. it is difficult. and there are a lot of unscrupulous people that we all know have hated us for a long time. who would love to get the upper hand. pull out? you give them the upper hand. stay there, you have an opportunity to do what chris stevens was doing and glenn doeherty and a lot of other people, which is stand up for and fight for the interests of the united states of america because we have real interests in those places.
3:25pm
that's what this is about. so, first of all, it deserves more than 15 minutes. secondly, it is not appropriate to do on a veterans bill where -- where we desperately need to get this help to our veterans. do it freestanding. do is the proper way. do it through our committee. do it -- you know, we'll have a hearing. happy to have that done proper. but this sbt the way to do it -- but this is not the way to do it and this is not the moment to do it and it would have a profoundly negative impact that could contribute to even more violence, not stem it, if that were our reaction. so i -- madam president, i do object and hope that at some point, you know, happy to have this debate. it's a worthwhile one. but this is not the time and this is not the bill. i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard.
3:26pm
mr. kerry: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
3:27pm
3:28pm
3:29pm
3:30pm
quorum call:
3:31pm
3:32pm
the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with.
3:33pm
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: madam president, the veterans job corps bill creates a new mandatory -- mandatory -- program that would cost $1 billion over five years. as the ranking republican on the budget committee and someone who is committed to ensuring that we honor our commitments as part of our process in this senate, i am concerned about the cost of the bill, and the fact that it violates our budget agreement entered into last year. the spending on this new program is to be offset by, we're told, $119 million in direct spending reductions, 119 in spending reductions, and $1.32 billion in new taxes. so it's a tax-and-spend bill.
3:34pm
my staff on the senate budget committee has confirmed that there is a 302-f budget act point of order against the veterans job corps act with the manager's amendment as it apparently is presently. it's not on the floor right now but it was earlier, and that is is -- that is the situation. when i say we've confirmed that, what i mean is that we have talked to the budget chairman and his staff, senator conrad and they've confirmed our conclusion that this violates our spending agreement. the 302-f point of order lies against this bill because the veterans job corps bill as amended would cause an increase in the budget authority and outlays above the veteran affairs committee's allocation. it would allow and authorize and
3:35pm
direct, make mandatory that the veterans affairs subcommittee spend more money than we agreed to just last august a year ago when we raised the debt ceiling if you remember that event. and that allocation was deemed by by the budget control act. the bill would cause specifically an increase in budget authority and outlays above the veterans affairs committee allocation by $61 million in 2013, $480 million between the five years of 2013 and 2017. so the budget gimmicks in the veterans job corps act are significant, and also very troubling. the c.b.o. accounting procedures don't catch this, but it's very real. they don't catch it because the people who wrote the legislation wrote it in a way that they
3:36pm
could avoid the proper score from the c.b.o. in this process. so the bill shifts -- get this. this is what happens -- the bill shifts the timing of corporate tax income tax payments and receipts to the u.s. government so that it, in fact, collects, for example, $135 million in additional revenue in 2013. so what do you mean by that? a month or so, these payments are due, they accelerate the receipt of those payments, the payments fall in this year and bingo, we say we've got another $135 million we can spend. isn't that wonderful? we just accelerate the date and the time that that would be paid. however, this is a smoke and
3:37pm
mirrors scheme because the timing shift in payments will lead to exactly $135 million less in the next year, isn't it? in other words, if you were planning on collecting $135 million next year and you collect it this year, the people who owed the money next year don't owe it anymore, they've already paid it. so there's a hole the next year. i've offered under the honest budget act along with senator olympia snowe and other colleagues, legislation that would end this pernicious gimmick. it's worse than a gimmick. so this bill uses the exact same mechanisms in 2017 and 2018, it selects -- thus it would collect, it says, $392 million more in tax payments in 2017,
3:38pm
but -- and i've got the chart from the congressional budget office, it collects $392 million less in 2018. you follow me? you just accelerate the money, you spend the money, you get it this year but you don't get it the next year. so over a period of time this is a gimmick that creates new real money but creates the appearance of having real money and it's this appearance of money that's being spent, not real money. this is how this country is going broke. it's just one of the examples. the gimmick -- if the gimmick was not included, the veterans job corps bill would increase the deficit by $38 million in 2013 and by $324 million over the period of 2013 through 2017, about one-third of the total expenditure of the bill is based on this gimmick.
3:39pm
now, our democratic colleagues have used this budget gimmick to claim, however, that it decreases the deficit by $97 million in 2013 and $68 million in 2013 through 2017, the five-year period. these points about the federal budget process are indisputable. i know what c.b.o. says about it, but when you look at their number and you exactly the -- over the period of six years you see clearly that the money's not there. so i invite anyone who wants to suggest that this is not -- this is real money, that the united states treasury is receiving, to come to the floor and lay out how they think they're correct on that. i don't believe i'm in error. i think i can say that no one can successfully do that. to put itfully simply, the money my democratic colleagues
3:40pm
claim in the bill as revenue isn't there. it appears to be there on paper but that is not the truth. the american people need to know the truth. so we simply spend more money, all on the veterans affairs committee allocation, than was agreed to in the budget control act of august a year ago when we raised the debt limit and agreed to cut spending at the same time. we've done it already this year previously, and as a result we're eroding at least the small but significant steps we took to bring some spending under control. the budget control act would have reduced spending by $2.1 trillion over ten years for the entire united states budget. how much is that? $2.1 trillion is a lot, it is a
3:41pm
lot, but we planned to spend $47 trillion over that ten years. so we'll be reducing our projected spending from $47 million to $45 trillion over ten years. surely we can do that and that is not a cut because if we spend for ten years at the current level of spending we'd be spending $37 trillion so we're still increasing spending from $37 trillion to $45 trillion, just not $47 trillion and the republic is not going to sink into the ocean with that kind of cuts. but it will begin to put us on a path of honesty and fiscal responsibility and end the unsustainable debt course we are now on. so i'm not happy about it, and here we are, and i'll make this budget point of order formally when we get back on the bill, i don't know when that will be. right now they've gotten off of it but i want my colleagues to
3:42pm
know what the situation is because it may be at 1:00 tonight when we have that done. so just to say this: this congress has had the worst record in decades, maybe in a hundred years. we haven't had a budget for over three years. we haven't dealt with the sequester that's got to be dealt with before the end of the year. this senate, not the house, this senate has not passed a single appropriations bill. to my knowledge, senator hatch, i don't believe we've ever failed to have a single bill. several times we've only had a few, but to have none and make it a policy of the majority party not to bring up a single bill so we can cobble it all together in some big omnibus c.r. and pass it in the dead of a night, maybe on christmas eve
3:43pm
after the election is over? we should have been doing that all year long. and we haven't dealt with the tax increases that are going to hammer the economy in january, and we haven't passed a budget in over a thousand days. the house has passed a good budget which changed the debt course of america, put us on a sound path. they sent over a defense authorization bill. they've sent over a defense appropriations bill. most of the appropriations bills until it became clear senator reid said we aren't going to pass them anymore. they sent over other good legislation that's dying in the senate. but we should not -- there are ways to help veterans get jobs. there are already six jobs programs for veterans now, six now. maybe they could be improved, maybe they could be fixed and if we do it right, we could create
3:44pm
a bill that helps veterans get jobs without violating the budget. i thank the chair and would yield the floor and am pleased to see before i do, senator hatch, the ranking member of the senate finance committee and his leadership on judiciary and finance is well known in this body and i've been honored to serve with you. thank you. madam chair, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i thank my colleague. he makes a lot of very important points here today and i hope everybody in this body has paid attention. madam president, back in june i came to the floor to discuss the many items of unfinished business that congress must take up before the end of the year. among those items are a number of tax-related issues that simply cannot be put off without inflicting more damage on our economy and on our american taxpayers. when i spoke on the floor regarding this tax agenda three months ago, i used this chart right here.
3:45pm
sadly, as you can see, sadly things have not changed since then. we still need to resolve the death tax. as you can see, death tax relief is the third one down. will expire at the end of 2012. we need to act to prevent a hike in the death tax in 2013. unfortunately, rather than work to prevent an increase in the death tax, a number of my colleagues voted earlier this summer to expand it significantly. while we passed a bill through the senate finance committee, the senate has yet to act on the tax extenders which expired nine months ago. now, and we -- and as you can see, we haven't done this tax extenders either on the floor. and we still have not acted to address the at active minimum tax, or a.m.t., which is set to hit millions of americans if we do not -- if we do not act to patch it. and that's right there on the
3:46pm
second item on this -- on this chart. this issue of the a.m.t. needs to be -- the alternative minimum tax needs to be discussed in some detail because the failure to resolve the a.m.t. is emblematic of the failure of this administration to take even the most basic steps to protect american families from the tax increases looming at the end of this year. nearly 4 million families paid the a.m.t. in 2011, yet if nothing is done to address the a.m.t. in this session, an additional 27 million to 28 million families will be hit with a surprise a.m.t. tax increase on the tax day on next april. now, that bears repeating. there are 27 million or 28 million families who have heretofore not been hit by the a.m.t. that will be hit if congress fails to act before the end of this year. but even that does not tell the whole story. more than twice that number -- that's 60 million american families -- will have to fill out the a.m.t., alternative minimum tax, work sheet on their
3:47pm
tax forms just to determine whether they owe anything under the a.m.t. now, this is a textbook example of the administration burden and dead-weight loss that our complicated tax code imposes on the american economy. for those who will be hit by the a.m.t., this is not just a reality that will hit on april 15 of next year, it's a reality today. those families ensnared by the a.m.t. are required to make estimated tax payments. and on monday of next week, september 17, the third such payment is due. the a.m.t. has become a unique burden because of the way it is structured. unlike most provisions in the tax code, the level of income exempt from the a.m.t. is not automatically adjusted for inflation. for 11 years, we have passed legislation to temporarily raise the a.m.t. exemption, which was originally meant for only 155 millionaires who didn't pay any taxes.
3:48pm
but each time we face an expiration of one of these temporary raises, like we do again this year, we risk seeing the a.m.t. return to its permanent level. and over time, that becomes more and more problematic as more and more americans have incomes that reach the unadjusted a.m.t. income level. now, these temporary exemption increases have been enacted to prevent millions of middle-class american families from falling prey to the a.m.t. but now the closer we get to the end of 2012 without another a.m.t. patch, the more likely it becomes that the tax will hit an unprecedented number of american families. ultimately we need a permanent fix for the a.m.t. this annual shell game needs to come to an end. this tax was initially created over 150 years ago to address 155 high-income individuals who paid zero in income taxes. 155 people. and because of its poor design today, an additional 27 million
3:49pm
americans may -- many squarely in the middle class -- are now threatened by the a.m.t. the president and his allies assure us that a.m.t. relief is a top priority but that seems to be just more talk. the president's budget proposed a permanent fix to the a.m.t. by replacing it with the so-called buffett tax. but the president's math just never added up. supposedly, nonpartisan policy experts and fact checkers have been eager beavers when it comes to criticizing the math in governor romney's tax proposal but maybe they should check the president's math as well. if we do not eliminate the a.m.t., it will hilt millions and mill -- hit millions and millions of american taxpayers, unjustly some the president claims a permanent fix is a priority of his. in his fiscal year 2013 budget, he proposed to offset it with the buffett tax. people treat the president's fiscal year 2013 budget as though it never happened.
3:50pm
in some sense, i understand that. it received not a single vote in the united states senate. even with his own party controlling the chamber. but that said, it is the president's budget. he wrote it. he presented it. he owns it. and how does it add up? consider the math on this permanent a.m.t. fix. again, he proposes to replace the a.m.t., he is sentencably helping middle-class taxpayers, with the buffett tax, ostensibly hurting the evil rich. that sounds great until you look at the numbers. how much revenue loss would there be from a permanent a.m.t. fix? $864 billion, to be exact. and how much would the buffett tax yield? $50 billion. a little less, actually. so the buffett tax misses the target by over 94%. the president would need to increase his buffett tax by over 1,600% to fill in the gap. there are not enough pin noac ps
3:51pm
in disney world to describe the funniness that is the president's a.m.t. proposal. ultimately the a.m.t. needs to go in its entirety t. will probably go as part of comprehensive tax reform. unfortunately, president obama and his campaign are undercutting the prospects for tax reform every day with their dishonest attacks on governor romney's tax proposal, a key element of which has been endorsed by the chairman of the president's own export council, even as his desperate campaign attacks the same feature. but absent a permanent a.m.t. fix, a temporary patch is both a viable and a necessary option. so here we are. with all of these must-added measures, we have the a.m.t., tax extendsers, the death tax, sequestration, and, of course, the expiration of the 2001-2003 tax relief that threatens to throw our economy into another recession. yet at a moment crying out for presidential leadership, we get
3:52pm
campaign partnership -- partisanship, excuse me. the president and his allies only seem concerned about getting past the next election. at a time when serious solutions to our fiscal crises are demanded, they offer up no plans on of their own. we hear that we need to stay the course but the course we are on has provided us with four straight trillion-dollar-plus deficits and a debt that threatens not only our long term but immediate fiscal well-being. the president's suggestion that we request solve these problems by cutting defense spending and raising taxes on the wealthy is a parody of serious fiscal policy. it might be good for a brumper sticker, a college sociology seminar or an occupy wall street sit-in, but the numbers do not add up. the president's mantra is that tax increases on the rich are that you will is necessary to balance the bill and balance every budget. that's not an oversimplification. if you watch the president's
3:53pm
campaign commercials, the only thing he says about balancing the budget is that he wants t to -- quote -- "ask the pelty to pay a little more." if that is true, then the extent of the president's plan for solving our fiscal crisis, he is either being dishonest or needs to invest in a new calculator. let me give you an example. our nation currently faces what some, including federal reserve chairman ben bernanke, have called a fiscal cliff with tax relief scheduled to expire at the end of this year, our nation faces the possibility of being thrown into another recession. according to the sib circumstances that outcome is a certainty if the tax relief signed by both presidents bush and obama are allowed to expire under current economic conditions. yet, rather than workin workingh the republicans in congress to he can than tx relief, tax relief that was originally extended with bipartisan support service and extended in a similar fashion in 2010, president obama has opted to
3:54pm
hold american taxpayers hostage in order to extract a tax increase for those making more than $250,000 a year. and why? not to help the economy. and not to reduce the deficit. but for electoral votes. the president and his supporters claism that these tax increases are necessary if we're to get the house in order. but if you do the math, the president's proposal would only raise enough money to reduce the deficit by just 5%. it would be just enough to fund the government's activity for about a week. madam president, whether we're talking about the buffett tax in the context of the a.m.t. discussion or the president's fixation with raising the top marginal tax rates in the midst of an historically weak economic recovery, it is clear that the president and his allies in congress are not serious about addressing the issues most important to the american peop people. these issues will not go away after the election but the
3:55pm
president has offered no positive program for getting us out of this mess and i've gotten quite a kick out of them saying mr. romney, governor romney, should be more specific on what he's doing. where's the president's plan? what's goag do? how are we going to get out of this fiscal mess? not a doggone thing being said, exempt things that don't add up mathematically, to borrow a very important phrase by a person onn the democratic party during th the -- during their convention. now, the president plight envision himself as this century's franklin roosevelt. but in this campaign, the only thing president obama has to offer is fear. fear itself. his failure to offer solutions does not just have a theoretical impact. this failure of leadership hits real people in a real way. don't just ask those making their quarterly tax payments on monday. ask any small business owner whether they're worried about
3:56pm
their taxes going up next year. ask nin any american who is having trouble -- ask any american who is having trouble making ends meet if they're concerned congress has neglected to address so many issues that will dramatically impact their financial well-being? when the senate recesses next week until after election day, i wonder what my colleagues in the majority will tell their constituents when they're asked why congress has not acted on these items? this checklist right here -- right here that we were talking about before, all of those are important. we've got to do those. my guess is that they'll say it is -- that it haul to wait until after they -- that it all had to wait until after the elect. that's all they can say. because if they were to come clean, they would have to admit that they did not to want pass any of these things. they were more interested in campaigning on our tax problems than on fixing them. madam president, if we go into nl the end of the year without -- until the end of the year
3:57pm
without addressing these pressing issues, the wound to our nation's fiscal well-being will be entirely self-inflicted. these are matters that could have and should have been addressed months ago and we need to address all those issues. that we've arrived at this point three-quarters of the way through the year without fixing these problems should be an embarrassment to the president and those in congress who are supportive of his agenda. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. mccain: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, i have a parliamentary inquiry. what is the parliamentary situation as it exists? the presiding officer: the senate is on the motion to proceed to s. 3521. mr. mccain: is the -- is the pending legislation open for amendment? the presiding officer: it is n not. the senate is on the motion to proceed. mr. mccain: so the senate
3:58pm
is -- how long has the senate been on the motion to proceed? the presiding officer: the senate went to the motion this morning. mr. mccain: i thank the -- madam president, i thank you. i was just glancing through the often read calendar of business here that we chop down a lot of trees to provide on every senator's desk on a daily basis, and as it's the calendar of business for thursday, september 13. on page 58 is the order number 419 is s. 3254 by mr. levin, a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities of the department of defense, for
3:59pm
military construction, for defense activities of the department of energy, to proscribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes. this was reported and place thed on thplaced onthe calendar on j- my service in reported and placed on the calendar on june 4, 2012. so for nearly four months, we've had the defense authorization bill pending on the legislative calendar. meanwhile, we've been taking up with other important items such as the one we are considering now, one that praises as we all do, and efforts for our veterans to obtain jobs. we already have six veterans' job-training program but, what the heck, let's have -- let's have another one. meanwhile, the men and women who
4:00pm
are serving in the military, who will be veterans, are not having authorized the equipment, the training, the programs, the health care, family support systems for military families, for example, strengthening training, oversight and prevention of military sexual assault. ensures that reductions in military personnel are matched with comparable savings in civilian personnel and contractors over the next five years, without sacrificing mission-critical capabilities. it authorizes $135 billion for military personnel, for the men and women who are serving today, including the costs of pay, allowances, bonuses, and 1.7%
4:01pm
much-deserved across of ha-the-d pay raises for members of the armed services. it also includes nearly $1 billion in unemployment benefits for members who leave military service and cannot find civilian jobs. it authorizes all our major weapons systems and every piece of equipment, large or small, that the department of defense needs and the men and women need who are still fighting in a war. we found out in the last day or so that we still live in an extremely dangerous world. it authorizes $525 billion for the defense department, $88 billion for operations in afghanistan and around the world, and $17.8 billion to maintain our nuclear deterrent. i think we've just seen with the
4:02pm
tragic death of our ambassador that al qaeda and other extremist organizations are making a comeback in places like iraq, afghanistan, certainly extremists were present in libya in the tragic death of four americans. this legislation enhances the capabilities of our military and partners to counter and ultimately defeat al qaeda and its regional affiliates who remain intent on attacking the united states and our interests. if there was an issue that all of us are concerned about, cyber warfare, those attacks that we know are coming sooner or later, this legislation improves the ability of our armed forces to counter nontraditional threats, focusing on terrorism, cyber warfare and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. i could go on and on about the
4:03pm
importance of this legislation, which has been before this body for four months. and what has the democratic leader of this united states senate done? we're about to go out of session next week without addressing the most important responsibility of this senate and their elected representatives, which is our nation's defense. in the meantime, we take up bills. the majority leader, quote, fills up the tree. it means that we can't have an amendment. and then we vote and we drop that particular piece of legislation and then the next week we'll take up a piece of legislation that somehow will enhance the majority leader's ability to maintain his position
4:04pm
as majority leader. certainly not -- not believing that that legislation will actually passed by the united states senate. every year for 51 years the united states senate has passed the defense authorization bill. it has gone to conference and been signed by the president of the united states. the majority leader of the united states and the members on the other side of this body have been derelict in their duties and we are about -- we are about for the first time in 50 years to not authorize what the men and women who are putting their lives on the line for us every single day need very badly. you know, sometimes my colleagues wonder why the american people hold us in such low esteem. if we can't provide -- if we
4:05pm
can't enact legislation that has us carry out our most important duties as representatives of the people, including the men and women in the military, then i'm surprised that so many americans still approve of the way that congress operates. so what have we watched here on the floor of the united states senate for the last four months since this bill was put on the calendar and could have been taken up, debated, and passed by the united states senate, as we have every year for 50 years? but the majority leader of the united states senate has refused to bring this bill before the body for debate, discussion, amendment, and passage. our most solemn responsibility. all i can say is, shame, shame, shame that we have not fulfilled the responsibilities to the men
4:06pm
and women who are sacrificing their very lives on our behalf. a failure of colossal proportions. so, all i can say is that i believe that the american people are aware, and i believe that the american people deserve a lot better than what they're getting from this body. i yield the floor. ms. ayotte: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: mr. president, i ask for permission to follow my colleague from arizona. is the floor still in republican -- the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. ms. ayotte: yes, thank you very much. i want to follow up, mr. president, on the comments of the distinguished ranking republican on the senate armed services committee, who of course through his own service and sacrifice for our country
4:07pm
knows too well how important it is for us to stand with our men and women in uniform. and i want to follow up on what he said. this body is about to go out and adjourn next week without passing a defense authorization. it would be the first time in over 50 years in the history of our country. and there's really no plan that we've heard from the majority leader as to when we will take up this incredibly legislation for our country, which, as senator mccain has already outlined, addresses issues like pay for our soldiers and the equipment that they need and benefits that they deserve and they've earned, and all of the important issues that impact the protection of our country and making sure that we stand in faith with our men and women in uniform. but i have to say that, unfortunately, this is part of a pattern of where we are right now in the united states senate.
4:08pm
it's very disappointing. i got elected in 2010, and as i know the president did as well, and i came here because i saw that our country was in trouble. we had -- at the time i ran, we had $13 trillion in ebbet did. now we're $16 trillion in debt. i had the privilege of serving on the senate srmd services committee, and -- senate armed services committee, and it really is a privilege. i am the wife of an iraq war veteran. i take my responsibility seriously. here we stand about to adjourn without take up the defense authorization, so important to our men and women in uniform. here we stand, about to adjourn, with our military facing what's called sequestration, which is across-the-board cuts, which our own military leaders have said will hollow out our force, will undermine our national security for generations.
4:09pm
these are the words of our own secretary of defense. will break faith with our men and women in uniform. and if we don't take action before january 1, this happens to our military on top of the fact that we haven't taken up a defense authorization. but not only that, it's been three years since the senate has taken up a budget for our country, which is one of the reasons we find ourselves in this situation with the hatchet coming to our military in january. and on top of that the majority leader has not brought forth one appropriations bill that would go with, if done in the right way, the appropriate budgeting. two important bills that i can think of for our men and women in uniform -- the military appropriations -- our defens dee appropriations and also the appropriations for our veterans. and yet none of that has come to the floor.
4:10pm
and here we are about to adjourn next week, not doing the people's business. the reason why people sent us here. if we can't have a budget and we can't take care of the foremost responsibility to the american people, which is to keep them safe through preventing draconian defense cuts that are going to undermine and break faith with our military -- and, by the way, also will cost us a million jobs in january, along with i didn't even mention, our tax rates are expiring. yet we're all leaving towfnlt i- yet we're all leaving town. i think it is irresponsible. i would call on the majority leader to bring up the defense authorization now. why can't we do a budget for this one? -- for this country? without a budget, how are we ever going to address the fiscal issues that are burning and have led us to $16 trillion in debt? so i stand here today to talk about why we should bring the defense authorization to the floor. i certainly don't want to be part of the senate that for the
4:11pm
first time in 50 years has not passed that defense authorization for our men and women in uniform. and here's what's important as well: in the senate armed services committee, we passed the defense authorization out of committee unanimously. at a time when i understand the american people are looking at us are saying, there's too much partisanship, we see you fighting too much, this is a bill that passed with unanimous support from republicans and democrats from that committee. so in terms of a bill we can bring to the floor that is incredibly important to our country, incredibly important to our men and women in uniform, and a bipartisan bill, i can't think of a better thing to do for our men and women in uniform. rather than continuing to have what we've seen from the majority leader, which is sort of political show vote after political show vote, rather than doing the real work that the american people have sent us here to do, the defense
4:12pm
authorization should be on the top of our list, preventing our military from these -- receiving these devastating cuts that are going to diminish our national security at a very troubling time in the world and also averting this fiscal crisis that's coming in january. i think we should stay to do that and i think the american people would expect nothing less of us. so, mr. president, i thank you for being in the seat, and i know that you ran in 2010 as well, and i'm sure you heard that when you ran for office. and we need to do better by the american people. and i know this: we owe it to our brave men and women in uniform to pass the defense authorization, to bring it to the floor, to debate it robustly, and then make sure it goes forward because the house of representatives passed their defense authorization on may 18. we should do our jobs here as well and take it up right away. i hope the majority leader will do that. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
4:13pm
mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i thank senator a i don'ayotte. she is a very active and aggressive member of the armed services committee, and as she noted, she is the wife of an iraq veteran and cares about these issues and contributes greatly. and i know -- and she and some of our other new members have been flabbergasted really to see how little has been accomplished since the two years they've been here. and it's really from my experience, senator ayotte, this is the worst performance in the 16 years i have a he ever seen -- i've ever seen in the united states senate. it may be the worst performance in 100 years. you mentioned the house has passed the defense authorization bill. the house has passed the defense appropriations bill. they passed the authorization bill in may and in june they passed the appropriations bill. we've had all summer, done
4:14pm
nothing. and you are so correct -- and i know you know, we had some really intense and good debate in the armed services committee over that bill. yet when it finished, we had a unanimous vote. and i thought that was special. and so why didn't the bill get brought up? i don't know. for the first time in over 50 years. i just really feel like we have missed an opportunity to do our duty, not only have we not had a budget, not only have we not had the defense bill or defense appropriations bill, we've had not one of the 13 appropriations bills been brought to the floor, not one. i believe that's never happened perhaps ever before, at least in maybe a century. so it's just really -- the
4:15pm
decision that was made by the democratic leader, supported by his conference. he can't just do things that his conference doesn't support. we end up at the end of the year with this massive c.r. with multiple changes they say will be a clean continuing resolution, just to fund the government for six months at the same level of funding. that's not exactly accurate. there are some things in it. but it is not the way to do business to have every one of the bills cobbled together, all 13 appropriations bills cobbled together in one six-amongst, half-year appropriations. because, you see, as of september 30, if we don't pass the appropriations bills, the government shuts down. under the law, the constitution, this government cannot spend a dime that congress has not appropriated. that's the way the government works.
4:16pm
we have to appropriate money before some bureaucrat can spend it. the house has done their duty but not the senate. we've not passed a single one. so what will happen to avoid the entire government being shut down, entire defense department being hammered? what do we do? we pass a continuing resolution that just continues to fund the government, they say, for now we understand six months. and that would be a substitute for doing what we should have done. what will we do six months from now? have another six-month c.r. or will we actually pass appropriations bills? i appreciate senator ayotte's leadership and participation, and i know, i've heard her express her frustration as a new member of the budget committee, that we haven't had a budget and didn't bring one in the budget committee and didn't vote on it.
4:17pm
as ranking member, it was a deeply disappointing thing to me. that was a decision made by the majority leader. senator reid said it would be foolish to have a budget. so now we've gone about 1,300 days without a budget in this country, and it has created this kind of ineffectualness, this dysfunction in our government. and i don't think it's acceptable. i don't believe it is an excuse for it. i believe it's been done purely for politics. that's not good. not when the men and women are serving us at risk of their lives, losing lives and limb on behalf of this congress because we sent them there and asked them to undertake a dangerous policy, and we can't even get together and get a bill to the floor. i would say we worked hard in the armed services committee. the bill that senator levin and
4:18pm
senator mccain led us to pass was passed unanimously, bipartisan. there would some things i would have liked to have seen different, senator levin may have liked different ideas, but we couldn't get them all to agree with everything we would like. but we got a pretty good bill and it was within the budget. it was the kind of legislation we'd need to pass. so the house passed their authorization bill within the budget similar to our bill. we should be able to conference and produce legislation in a reasonable amount of time. but when you bring a bill like that to the floor, people are entitled to have amendments. they're entitled to offer an amendment that says senator paul wants to cut off funding for some foreign aid that we've been putting out. and some people don't want to vote on that. it might not be an easy vote. but this is the united states
4:19pm
senate. people are entitled to offer amendments. they're entitled to have votes on issues they believe in and they campaigned on and they advocate, and they're entitled to get their votes. but if it's a tough vote, it seems around here, the leadership on the other side doesn't want to us talk about it. they don't want to be on the record as voting. so that's a disappointment to us. i think senator mccain spoke with clarity. he spoke as a man who served his country, who's been in harm's way, who suffered on behalf of our country, who understands foreign policy, who understands the defense department, understands congress, his comments were solid, on point and correct. i hope all americans listen to him.
4:20pm
mr. president, i appreciate the opportunity to share in my disappointment at this point. one more thing before i yield the floor, senator mccain earlier today and i and others talked about the sequester. that has to be fixed by the beginning of next year. it really needs to be fixed now. we can fix it now. we will fix it, in my opinion, sometime between now and the end of the year. it would be so much better if we brought it up, confronted the difficulties of the sequester and fixed it now rather than leaving a cloud over the defense department. and if we somehow fail to alter this sequester, this bill that's on the floor, this veterans jobs bill becomes really so insignificant because we're going to lay off so many members of our military who maybe just
4:21pm
recently got back from a deployment overseas in harm's way who would leak to make a career in the united states military. and that's their plan. and all of a sudden they get a blue slip. all of a sudden they say congress couldn't confront the sequester. we don't have money, and we're going to have to lay you off. don't think that's not possible, because if this sequester goes in place, we're going to have to reduce personnel numbers in our military significantly. we've already taken almost $500 billion out of the defense department over ten years. the sequester would take another, even more, about $492 billion in this sequester additionally. and it cannot be done without more personnel reduction. we've already assumed a decline in military personnel with the overseas deployments going down. some decline.
4:22pm
but this would be a rapid, dramatic decline to meet the demands of the cuts of the sequester that are unwisely being imposed at this point. and it would cause substantial layoffs as well as substantial procurement problems. i hope we'll think about that as we go forward. if we can't get it done before we recess, it needs to be done promptly. but it really should have been done this summer. and i feel like the leadership of the senate should have been active in that. i think the president of the united states should have talked to his secretary of defense who said that the sequester would be catastrophic, would hollow out the military. he should have talked to secretary panetta and he should be over here to the congress providing some leadership and saying mr. reid, fix this sequester. we cannot allow it to happen. i'm the chief executive officer of the government. i'm the commander in chief of the united states military. you're going to do damage to the
4:23pm
military of the united states. it's my responsibility as president to insist that you and congress get this thing done. i'm tpraoepd provide leadership and suggestions and help to get it done. has he done that? no. he's not said one word about us advancing or put any effort into leadership that would lead us to fix this problem. i think that's a disappointing thing; just have to say it is. maybe others think it's all right for him to lead from behind, to sit in the white house and go make speeches and not worry about the sequester, not worry about the fact we haven't passed a defense bill. i don't think so. i think you're still president of the united states even when you're running for reelection. but, i think a phone call or two to the senate leadership would get the ball moving. that's about all it takes, frankly. seems like to me the white house is perfectly happy with
4:24pm
inaction. that's the bottom line, in my opinion. they're perfectly happy. they want to tell the republicans if you don't raise taxes like we want taxes to be raised, we're going to hammer the defense department. but he's the commander in chief. he has a moral obligation to those men and women to make sure that we're safe and that they're treated fairly. i don't think that's responsible. i thank the chair and would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:25pm
4:26pm
4:27pm
4:28pm
4:29pm
4:30pm
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from the republican leader. mr. mccain: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings urn the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection.
4:31pm
mr. mcconnell: anyone who happened to be watching the senate floor a little earlier today got a taste of why, in the midst of a national jobs crisis, americans are still in danger of being slammed by one of the biggest tax hikes in history. while the u.s. military is today at risk of cuts that would devastate national security and why there's now a very good chance another major ratings agency will downgrade our nation's credit. there's a reason all these things may actually happen and it has nothing whatsoever to do with republicans. the nation is at risk of entirely avoidable member calamity because the president -- economic calamity is because the president of the united states and the democrats in the senate would rather spend their time picking apart paul ryan and the house budget plan, which the house has already passed, than producing one of their own. they'd rather sit on the sidelines and hope people focus
4:32pm
on the other guy's attempts to solve our most pressing domestic problems than bother to do anything about them themselves. this has been the democratic m.o. for two long years. and it's really a disgrace. later today, the house will pass a six-month continuing resolution to fund the government beyond the end of the month. why? well, because democrats refused to do the basic work of government. the democratic senate hasn't passed a budget in more than three years. this year they haven't passed a single appropriations bill. for two years, have done -- democrats have done nothing, nothing but cast blame. now, the law says that democrats have to pass a budget. a simple majority can pass a budget. the law has been ignored. the president's proposed a budget of his own. they've opposed that one as well. the nation's just 3 1/2 months
4:33pm
away from going off a fiscal cliff and they actually seem to welcome it, because their overriding goal isn't to help the american people find work, it isn't to get a handle on the debt, it isn't to give small businesses a boost, it's to make government even bigger than it already is. and they're perfectly willing to let the country plunge into an even deeper economic mess to ensure they get the bigger government they want. that's how extreme and washington democrats have become. they're on an ideological crusade. they spent the first two years of this presidency putting their policies in place and when they lost their big majorities in congress, they decided to sit on their hands rather than change their approach as all of these challenges built and built and built. for two years, this president
4:34pm
got absolutely everything he wanted legislatively, aided by giant majorities in both houses of congress and goaded on by a chief of staff who told him to brush aside any pleas for bipartisanship. he spent two years putting into place the big-government agenda that he and his liberal allies had dreamed of, an agenda so extreme that their biggest challenge was making sure members of their own party didn't defect. and the results of those efforts are clear for all to see -- unemployment's been above 8% for 43 straight months, growth is an anemic 1.5%, the slowest recovery since great depression. the federal debt is a stratosphere i caic $15 trillio. a full 15% of americans are now on food stamps. the census bureau said just
4:35pm
yesterday that household income haves declined every year of the obama administration and one out of six americans are living in poverty. and the labor participation ra rate, the percentage of those who can work that are actually working? it's at its lowest point in decades. if you count people who've given up looking for work, unemployment's above 11%, not the 8% we read about. these are the grim, grim realities of the obama economy. and make no mistake, the framework for it was laid in 2009 and 2010. so, yes, president obama and governor romney have different philosophies on how to lead america back to prosperity, but the biggest difference is thi this -- one of them's had four years to implement his vision and it should be obvious to everyone that that's been a
4:36pm
total failure. it's failed to lift us out of a jobs crisis. it's helped prevent the type of recovery that we all know is entirely possible. yet all we get from the president or from democrats in congress is feel-good rhetoric, attacks on republicans who are actually working to solve our problems, and political showboats that are deliberately designed to fail. blame the other guy and maybe people won't notice your own refusal to lead or the implications of your own vision. because, make no mistake, in order to fund the government this president wants, there would be no choice but to go after the very middle class he claims -- claims -- to be fighting for. that's the dirty little secret behind the president's vision for america. that's the math he didn't mention in charlotte. and that's the real story about what's been going on around here
4:37pm
for two long years, the president and democrats in congress laid the foundation for the economy we're in right now. they were so sure it would work that the president said if it didn't, he wouldn't deserve reelection. well, it didn't. so for the last two years, republicans in congress have done everything we could to convince the president to go in a different direction, to change course. he didn't. he doubled down on the same failed policies. and when he wasn't able to get them through congress, he blamed republicans for the consequences. well, blame us for the results of -- well, blaming us for the results of his policies is almost as ridiculous as concluding that the vision behind them will be any more successful over the next four years than it has been over the last four years. it's time for democrats from the president on down to stop blaming others and to start leading.
4:38pm
our problems are too serious and our challenges too urgent to wait another day to act. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, on another matter -- tomorrow the lie librarian of congress, dr. jim billington, will mark 25 years on the job and so i'd like to just say a few words of congratulation in honor of his service. dr. billington has enjoyed a distinguished career. he's a rhodes scholar, earned his doctorate from oxford, served in the army, and taught history at harvard and at princeton. he's a renowned author and a russian scholar, advising numerous members of congress, administration officials, and even presidents. dr. billington's tenure at the library of congress has been exemplary. his most significant
4:39pm
contribution is certainly his vision to bring the library of congress into the 21st century by digitalizing its collection. because of his actions, dr. billington has expanded the library of congress' reach into thousands of educational institutions and millions of homes here and throughout the world. under dr. billington's leadership, the library of congress has strengthened and flourished. so today we honor and we thank dr. jim billington for an outstanding job leading the library of congress for the past 25 years. we wish him continued success and thank him for a lifetime of service to inspiring and educating others. dr. billington, congratulations. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
4:40pm
4:41pm
4:42pm
4:43pm
mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. thune: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with and that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, all week my democrat colleagues here in the senate have been coming to the
4:44pm
floor and using scare tactics and demagoguery on the so-called ryan budget. and, of course, what they're referring to is the budget that was passed by the house of representatives months ago. and it's i suppose fair any time you produce something to have that criticized and critiqued and scrutinized and looked at and discussed. but it seems at the same time that if you were going to attack the product that somebody else had put forward, that the natural follow-up question would be, "so what are you proposing?" "where is your budget proposal?" and i think it begs the question, mr. president, on behalf of the american people that the democrats here in the senate who want to attack the house-passed budget haven't produced a budget of their own. now, it's been 1,200 -- over 1,200 days, 1,232 days, i think to be precise, that we have not
4:45pm
considered a budget here in the united states senate. and just for those who are trying to do their arithmetic in their minds right now, that's three years and four months. three years and four months without a budget in the united states senate. that at the same time that we continue to get bad news about the economy. this week we received news that moody's intends if we end up going over the fiscal cliff next year to downgrade america's credit rating. that would follow with other credit agencies, rating agencies that have already made that assumption about the american economy and the american fiscal situation. we also received notice last week that the world economic forum had downgraded america's global competitiveness. when president obama took office in january of 2009, the world was ranked first, first in the world when it comes to global competitiveness. we dropped down to fourth or fifth i think here in the last year or two, but just in the
4:46pm
last couple of weeks now the world economic forum has dropped the united states even further. we are now seventh in the world when it comes to global competitiveness. and the reasons they cite for that are many but it really comes back to the basic issues of spending and debt and taxes and regulations and red tape and the cost of doings business in this country. it seems like, mr. president, that the democrat solution to that is to tax more so that we can spend more. raise taxes to grow government. that seems to be the only solution the other side is willing to put forward. now, i say that when i say that's the only solution, because that's what we hear coming out of the white house in terms of the so-called fiscal cliff and in terms of the response to dealing with the sequester, we could do away with the sequester if we just had more revenues. if washington could just raise more money, more tax revenues
4:47pm
from the american people, this problem would all go away. what it misses, mr. president, is the fact that the real issue here in washington, d.c. isn't that we tax too little, it's that we spend too much. washington has a spending problem that needs to be corrected. and at least the house of representatives put forward a budget plan that addressed the fundamental problems that plague our nation's fiscal cliff situation. if you look at what we're facing in terms of obligations, liabilities, responsibilities in the years in the future, medicare, social security, medicaid, other programs continue to grow at two or three times the rate of inflation. that's not sustainable. that is going to lead to us bankruptcy. we are on an unsustainable fiscal cliff path. the trajectory we're on today cannot be sustained over time. yet we haven't seen any proposal put forward by the democrats here in the senate, not just for this last year but the year
4:48pm
before that and the year before that. three years and four months now since the democrats in the senate have put a budget on the floor of the united states senate that we would have an opportunity to vote on, and to give the american people at least an idea about where we want to lead this country. so when they come down here hour after hour, day after day, night after night attacking the house-passed budget, i think the american people have got to say and to the democrats here in the united states senate, where is your plan? where is your budget? show us what you would do. show us how you would address the fiscal cliff crisis that we're facing here in this country. the answer is there isn't one. it's nada. it's zero. there's no plan, no budget, there hasn't been, the not this year, not last year or the year before that. for three years and four months now there hasn't been a budget put on the floor of the united states senate for us to vote on, to amend, to discuss, to
4:49pm
have any kind of conversation about the future of this country and what we're going to do to address the fiscal cliff crisis we all acknowledge exists. this is the most predictable crisis as has been point out in american history. we all know where we're headed. you can look at the numbers. it's not complicated, it's not rocket science, it's simply a function of math and the math is working against us and every day we wait it becomes more complicated, more difficult, more problematic for us to solve this problem and it further threatens the future and puts at risk our children and grandchildren and the quality of life and the standard of living that they're going to experience and enjoy in their lifetimes. so when the ratings agencies like moody's come out and say this fiscal cliff if we go over it means that a downgrade in the credit rating of the united states, when you have organizations like the world economic forum say that the united states is now seventh when it comes to global
4:50pm
competitiveness as opposed to first which is where we were when the president took office, we all should take notice. it is yet another flashing red light, another warning sign, it's a red flag, if you will, that things are not well here in the united states of america. and yet the only proposal that has been put forward that would address that is the budget passed by the house of representatives. why? because the united states senate, again, has not passed a budget. we haven't produced a budget now for over three years. and it's interesting because one of my democrat colleagues who was down here talking on the floor earlier this week described the budget as a set of values in attacking the house-passed budget that somehow the house-passed budget represented the wrong values, didn't represent somehow american values. well, if a budget represents a set of values, what does it mean, then, when you don't have one? if you don't have a budget, what does that say about your values?
4:51pm
it seems to me at least, mr. president, that at least the house of representatives to their credit has put forward a proposal that whether you agree with it or not does address the fundamental problems that we have as a nation and that is out-of-control federal spending, a trajectory with regard to entitlement programs that literally will bankrupt the nation, a tax code that is overly complicated that needs to be reformed. 0 those were all addressed in the house budget and a lot of people have attacked the whole idea in the house budget with regard to medicare reform which is referred to as premium support. premium support is not a new idea. it's something that was popularized by liberal think tanks years ago and, in fact, this year the house proposed idea when it comes to premium support was something that was advanced by representative paul ryan and by senator ron wyden here in the united states senate. it was a bipartisan idea. it was also something that was advocated by the rivlin-domenici
4:52pm
task force that looked at our fiscal cliff situation and when it came to the idea of the notion of how to reform medicare, premium support was something put forward was something that could save the taxpayers money, introduce competition in the same way that the medicare part d program has introduced competition and actually saved money over what it was proposed to cost. it's not a new idea, it is an idea that has been tried with medicare part d was adopted, the premium support concept was included as part of that, and you can see the results of that have led to lower cost, more lower cost than predicted. frankly, mr. president, that's because it introduced the idea, the element of competition into the whole way that we deliver health care services under medicare. well, that's something that was proposed and built upon, developed as part of the budget passed in the house of representatives. but, again, it's something that's not new around here. it's had lots of support in the
4:53pm
past from democrats. it seems to me at least that if we know what we've got today isn't working, we ought to be willing to at least entertain a discussion and a conversation about some ideas that actually might solve the problem and might work. yet here in the united states senate for three years we have not had a budget. now, some would argue that, you know, that the president of the united states has put forward a budget and in fact, as a matter of i guess just delivering a piece of -- or a set of papers to the congress, he did do that. but i would argue and most would agree it wasn't a serious effort, it certainly wasn't a meaningful attempt to address entitlement reform or tax reform. that evidenced by the fact when it was put on the united states senate it was defeated by 97-0. the previous year the house of representatives had a vote on the president's budget. that year it was voted down in
4:54pm
the house by something like 419 or 420 to zero. the president's congress hasn't received one vote in either the house or the senate. that should speak volumes about the attempt to do this. what it suggests, it was not serious, it didn't make a real effort at trying to address the issues of spending and debt and getting the economy growing again and reforming our tax code and driving down the cost of doing business in this country instead of increasing is cost is which is something that seeps seems to be happening every day here. i travel the state of south dakota, i listen to businesses from other parts of the country, the thing you hear over and over and over again is the cost of doing business is making us uncompetitive. we continue to be saddled with mandates, requirements, taxes and those sorts of things, the red tape of doing business in this country is making it incredibly difficult for our small businesses and job crea to get -- crearkts to get this
4:55pm
economy back on its feet. i would simply say, mr. president, that in response to the attacks that have been leveled by my colleagues on the other side on the proposal advanced and put forward by the house republicans that it would bode them, i think, to if you want to have a debate about priorities, if you want to have a debate about values and want to have a debate about budgets, you have to have one. it starts with a budget. we don't have one. we don't have any plan for how we're going to deal with the very factors, the very elements that led organizations like moody's and organizations like the world economic forum to determine that the united states credit rating is in jeopardy and that our global competitiveness has dropped from first in the world to seventh. those are things that i think we ought to be talking about. and you can't start talking about those things unless you have a plan, unless you have a budget that describes what you would do to address the drivers
4:56pm
of federal spending, the drivers of federal debt, and, again, mr. president, i can't emphasize this enough, the only thing i hear coming out of my colleagues on the other side to address it is we need more revenues. we need to raise taxes. we don't have enough revenue and if we just raise more revenues, we could solve all of these problems. i would again say to my colleagues that what we have fundamentally here in washington, d.c. is not a revenue issue. we have a spending problem. washington doesn't tax too little, it spends too much. and that's why we need to get the spending under control, but it starts with the budget. and i think it would be behoove our colleagues on the other side as when they come down here day after day and berate and attack and suggest somehow that the budget passed by the house of representatives is not representative of american values, that they come down here with something of their own that might lay out a plan that actually does address medicare
4:57pm
reform, medicaid reform, tax reform, the things we know have to be dealt with in the future if we're going to hand a better and more prosperous and stronger nation to our children and our grandchildren. that simply hasn't happened. and they can come down here and say what they want but there isn't any -- when there's no budget, there is no blueprint, there is no plan, no path forward that addresses these difficult, complicated challenges and problems that face us and face our nation in the future. so i hope that we will eventually see that, i hope the president will come to the table and that we can sit down and talk about how we are going to solve the fiscal cliff we're headed over at the end of this year and, again, it's not just the credit rating, it's just not global competitiveness, it is the american economy at stake as well. the congressional budget office has said if we go over this fiscal cliff, that -- where taxes go up on january 1, where
4:58pm
these cuts, disproportionate cuts take effect on the military budget, we're looking at an economic recession next year, a contraction in the company up to 2.9% and unemployment above 9%. this is about america's standing, it's about our credit rating, about our competitiveness and it's about jobs and the economy fundamentally. it is high time that we had help and cooperation and an idea perhaps from the other side about how they would solve these problems. i hope we will get that, mr. president, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i know senator grassley is on the floor and thank him for the courtesy of allowing me to go next. i ask unanimous consent if i could speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: i take this time on behalf of maryland farmers. they're hurting along with many farmers around the nation because of the devastation from
4:59pm
the drought. i'm talking on behalf of the poultry farmers, as the presiding officer knows, in the delmarva peninsula, the impact on the drought on the corn crop making it extremely difficult to make ends meet. we have a robust agricultural community, it's one of the largest parts of our economy, and that's true in just about every state in the nation. we have seen the worst drought in 50 years. it's affecting 42 states in this union. this is widespread. and congress needs to act. the first thing we should do, mr. president, is encourage our colleagues in the house of representatives to take up and pass the farm bill that we have passed. that was a bipartisan bill, it was a

Terms of Use (10 Mar 2001)